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 John Cowles, Sr

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John Cowles, Sr

  • Birth 14 Dec 1898 Algona, Kossuth County, Iowa, USA
  • Death 25 Feb 1983 Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, USA
  • Burial Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa, USA
  • Plot Block: 31 Section:Lot: 00009
  • Memorial ID 24085864

John Cowles Sr., former publisher and chairman of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune Co., died at his home yesterday. was 84.

Editors of the Star and Tribune said Cowles had been ill for some time and no cause of death was immediately known.

Born in Algona, Iowa, on Dec. 14, 1898, Cowles attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard University.

His father, Gardner Cowles, Sr., bought the Des Moines Register and Tribune in 1903. The family took over the Minneapolis Star in 1935 and the Minneapolis Tribune in 1941.

Cowles was known for his wide interests, including international relations, politics, economics, art, education and philosophy.

He was elected a vice president of the Associated Press at age 30 and was for many years a director of the worldwide news-gathering cooperative. In 1954, he was named honorary national president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists.

He served as a private in the infantry during World War I.

On July 18, 1923, he married Elizabeth Morley Bates of Oswego, N.Y.

The Minneapolis newspapers flourished under Cowles' leadership. The circulation of the Star was 79,000 when the family took over; the Tribune's circulation was 61,000. Today, the combined Minneapolis Star and Tribune has a daily circulation of 360,000.

Cowles was a visible publisher to his reporters. He read the newspapers with meticulous thoroughness. Often, torn-out pages would be delivered to the newsroom by his secretary, with errors circled in red.

In 1949, at the dedication of a new plant, he summarized his views on newspapers. He said:

"The primary obligation of a newspaper is to give its readers the news, all the news, without bias or slant or distortion or suppression, in the news columns. We believe that only on our editorial pages should our own opinions be expressed . . . On our editorial pages we try to mold and guide public opinion so that the people will have sounder judgments on the vital political and economic and social problems confronting the country."

Survivors include two daughters, Mrs. Arthur A. Ballantine Jr., of Durango, Colo., and Sarah Cowles Doering, of Cambridge, Mass.; two sons, John Jr., former president of Cowles Media Co., and Russell Cowles of Minneapolis; and a brother, Gardner Cowles of New York.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.


Family Members


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  • Created by: Burt
  • Added: 21 Jan 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 24085864
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John Cowles, Sr (14 Dec 1898–25 Feb 1983), Find A Grave Memorial no. 24085864, citing Glendale Cemetery, Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa, USA ; Maintained by Burt (contributor 46867609) .