Local rancher, Hearst Corp. Chairman George R. Hearst Jr. dies at 84

ktanner@thetribunenews.comJune 25, 2012 

George Hearst Jr.

George Randolph Hearst Jr. — a local rancher who was chairman of the board of Hearst Corp., president of The Hearst Foundation and a director of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation — died Monday at Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto of complications following a stroke. He was 84.

According to sfgate.com, George Hearst became ill June 16 at his ranch home in Paso Robles.

He was the eldest grandson of the late William Randolph Hearst, who established the family’s multimedia empire and built Hearst Castle.

George R. Hearst had been deeply involved with Hearst Corp. since 1948 and served as a director for more than 53 years.

He was also a newspaperman. During his career at Hearst, he served on the staff of the San Francisco Examiner, as publisher of the Los Angeles Examiner, as business manager and publisher of the Los Angeles Evening Herald-Express, as publisher of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and as vice president of Hearst Corp. and head of its real estate activities.

“George was an enthusiastic supporter of the corporation’s growth and diversification strategies,” said Frank A. Bennack Jr., executive vice chairman and chief executive officer of Hearst Corp.

“As chairman of the board, he brought his vast experience and wisdom to bear during a time of incredible growth and helped guide us through periods of enormous change. Although always calling every situation as he saw it, George was the most supportive and steadfast chairman a CEO could possibly have. He will be greatly missed by everyone who had the pleasure of working with him.”

George R. Hearst Jr., was born in San Francisco on July 13, 1927, to Blanche Wilbur and George R. Hearst Sr.

He joined the staff of the Los Angeles Examiner in 1948, then the San Francisco Examiner for two years and the Los Angeles Evening Herald-Express, where he was named business manager in 1957.

By 1958, Hearst was a vice president of Hearst Publishing Co. Inc., a director of Hearst Corp. and a director of The Hearst Foundation. He became publisher of both the Los Angeles Herald-Express and the Los Angeles Examiner in 1960, and publisher of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner in 1965.

After serving as vice president of Hearst Corp. and managing its extensive real estate holdings, he succeeded his uncle, Randolph A. Hearst, as chairman in 1996 and served in that capacity until his death.

George Hearst was a rancher at heart and was the San Luis Obispo County Cattlemen’s Association Cattleman of the Year in 2003. He was well known for his cattle knowledge and skill as a breeder, and for his willingness to help the agricultural community. For instance, every year, he supported many ranching youngsters by buying their livestock at the California Mid-State Fair.

He had been interviewed at length at several San Simeon locations in March for a film commemorating the 125th anniversary of the Hearst Corp.

Hearst also had spent nearly 10 years in the military, first enlisting during World War II and serving in the Naval Air Corps, and then serving in the Army during the Korean War, including service as a combat helicopter pilot.

According to biography information released for his Cattleman of the Year award, Hearst was shipped to Korea in December 1952. In March of 1953, then a warrant officer, he flew his helicopter within 300 yards of enemy lines to resupply a battalion of troops marooned near the front line.

According to his son Stephen Hearst, George Hearst was the first Sikorsky helicopter pilot to ferry soldiers into and out of battle. He flew more than 300 combat missions while in Korea, returning in May of 1954.

He is survived by twin sister Phoebe Hearst Cooke; wife Susan and her daughter Jessica Gonzalves and her two children; his three children, George R. Hearst III, Stephen T. Hearst and Erin Hearst Knudsen; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Hearst is predeceased by his oldest child, Mary “Bunny” Hearst Ives, who died in 2004.

Services are to be private. A celebration of life will be announced at a later date.

Donations may be made to McCloud Healthcare Clinic Inc., 116 W. Minnesota Ave., P.O. Box 1143, McCloud, CA 96057.

Donations may also be made to the Hearst Cancer Resource Center c/o French Hospital Foundation, 1911 Johnson Ave., San Luis Obispo, CA 93401.

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