James Boone Jr.

Published 2:54 pm Thursday, February 16, 2023

James Buford Boone, Jr. died February 13, 2023, at UAB-Highlands Hospital following a brief illness. He was 87.

James Boone Jr.

He was born in Macon, Ga., on November 25, 1935 to Mr. and Mrs. James Buford Boone, Sr.

Boone, a lifelong newspaperman, succeeded his father, Buford Boone, as publisher of The Tuscaloosa [Ala.] News in 1968 and built over the following half-century a community media company that now owns or manages 91 newspapers and related print and digital products in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The Albert Lea Tribune is an affiliate of BNI.

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The company, which had operated as Boone Newspapers, Inc. since its founding, was renamed Boone Newsmedia, Inc. in 2022 to reflect its considerable progress in serving readers and advertisers both digitally and in print.

From 1968 through 1980, Boone served as president of Tuscaloosa Newspapers, Inc., the predecessor corporation of BNI and publisher of The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News from 1968 through 1978.

Prior to joining his father at The Tuscaloosa News, Boone worked with his mentor Carmage Walls. Seven years were spent as publisher of the Suffolk (Va.) News-Herald, a daily newspaper. Prior to Suffolk, Boone was a business manager and a reporter for the Baytown (Texas) Sun and did group management work with other Walls-owned newspapers in that area. Before the Baytown work, he traveled for Mr. Walls in converting newspapers from hot metal/letterpress to cold type/offset. Prior to 1958, Boone worked six years at The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News, while a University of Alabama and high school student.

Boone was a 1958 graduate of the School of Commerce and Business Administration at the University of Alabama and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the University of Alabama (1993). He served the university in many capacities, including positions on the President’s Cabinet, Board of Visitors of the College of Commerce and Business Administration, the Board of Visitors of the College of Communication and Information Sciences, and on the board of the 1831 Foundation.

Boone earned the Julia & Henry Tutwiler Award from the University of Alabama and earned admission to multiple Halls of Fame: the Communications Hall of Fame, College of Communication & Information Sciences at the University of Alabama; the Alabama Business Hall of Fame, College of Commerce & Business Administration, University of Alabama; the Civic Hall of Fame, West Alabama Chamber of Commerce (Tuscaloosa); and was named a Pillar of West Alabama by the Community Foundation of Tuscaloosa. Boone was a proud Eagle Scout (Boy Scouts of America).

He married Jane Carolyn Farrior, a native of Lowndes County, Ala., on February 14, 1987.

He was exceptionally proud to be the father of his five children: Kenneth Scholl Boone (Mary Lyman), age 62, owner of The Alexander City (Ala.) Outlook, Dadeville (Ala.) Record, weekly newspapers at Wetumpka and Tallassee, Ala., and LAKE Magazine and Lake Martin Living, each monthly magazines; J. Buford Boone, III, (Cindy), age 60, owner of Boone Ballistics, Tuscaloosa, Ala., conducts ballistics research and consulting, teaches SWAT team and sniper subjects, retired Supervisory Special Agent, FBI, Quantico, Virginia; Martha Frances Boone, Lady Cobbold (Henry), age 58, CEO of Knebworth Estate, Knebworth, England; Dr. Caroline Boone Rockefeller (Will), age 34, Little Rock, Ark., Doctorate of French Literature, Vanderbilt University; and Catherine Boone Hadaway (Harrison), age 30, Vicksburg, Miss., Publisher of The Vicksburg (Miss.) Post and group manager of The Natchez (Miss.) Democrat and The Brookhaven (Miss.) Daily Leader.

Boone earned multiple industry related awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alabama Press Association; the Casey Award from the University of Minnesota for leadership in the newspaper industry; and the Frank Mayborn Award from Southern Newspaper Publishers Association for leadership in the industry.

Boone served on the Board of Directors of Regions Financial Corporation and was chairman of the corporate governance committee and a member of the trust committee in Birmingham, Ala. He also served on the Board of Directors at Regions Bank, Tuscaloosa, retiring from both in 2004 after many years of service.

Boone has served on numerous boards, such as the Randall Publishing Company Board of Directors; the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association Board of Directors; American Press Institute Southeastern Advisory Board; West Alabama Chamber of Commerce (past president); Christ Episcopal Church Vestry; DCH Regional Medical Center Foundation (twice past president); Tuscaloosa Academy Board of Trustees (twice past president); The United Way of West Alabama (past director and president and twice drive chairman); YMCA of Tuscaloosa (past director and president); Salvation Army Advisory Board (past chairman); Tuscaloosa Park and Recreation Authority Board (three years as chairman); Journalism Foundation of Alabama Press Association (past president); and on the Board of Trustees of the Westervelt-Warner Museum of American Art in Tuscaloosa.

Boone was a founding member of St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Tuscaloosa.

Boone moved in 2022 from Tuscaloosa to Lowndesboro, Ala. and remained active in BNI and with its affiliate newspapers until his death, regularly meeting with senior management, publishers and other staff members by video conference.

He was predeceased by his parents, James Buford Boone, Sr. and Frances Herin Boone; and Jeanette Boone Younkin, his sister.

Jim is survived by his wife of 36 years, his five children, seven grandchildren, Christopher O’Brien Boone of Berlin, Germany; Riley Frances Boone Harris (John Wayne) of Virginia; Dr. James Kenneth Boone (Jenny) of Colorado; the Hon. Morwenna Gray Lytton Cobbold Bush (Phil) of London; the Hon. Edward Stucley Fromanteel Lytton Cobbold of Knebworth, England; Anne Winthrop Hargrove Rockefeller and Lillian Jane Rockefeller of Little Rock, Ark.; one great-grandchild, Dorothy Frances Harris of Virginia; Laura F. Younkin, his niece of Georgia; his nephews William E. Younkin, Sr. (Sharlotte) and William E. Younkin, Jr., Charles T. Blount and Samuel D. Blount of Cecil, Ala.; and his niece Michelle Y. Blount (Ronald) of Cecil, Ala.

Services will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lowndesboro Methodist Church, 198 S. Broad St., Lowndesboro, Ala., followed by a graveside service at Oakview Cemetery in Lowndesboro and a gathering at The Marengo House, 100 N. Broad St., Lowndesboro, Ala. Alabama Heritage Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Pallbearers will be Christopher O’Brien Boone, Dr. James Kenneth Boone, William Dickson Farrior IV, Charles T. Blount, Samuel D. Blount, and William E. Younkin, Jr. Honorary pallbearers are managers and publishers of Boone Newsmedia.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the UAB Boone Optic Nerve and Retinal Research Support Fund, UAB Advancement, 1720 2nd Avenue S., AB 1230, Birmingham, Ala. 35294, or to Lowndesboro Landmarks Foundation, PO Box 34, Lowndesboro, Ala. 36752.