FAC remembers founding member, P-E Publisher Tim Hays.

Howard H. “Tim” Hays, the much honored former editor, publisher and chairman of the Press-Enterprise newspaper in Riverside, CA, and founding member of the First Amendment Coalition, died October 14 in St. Louis.  He was 94.

“Tim was a rarity, a man whose moral compass was set on true,” Mel Opotowsky recalled in a Press-Enterprise article. “That is especially important as a newspaper owner because of the obligation as a public trust. There are many instances of Tim’s beneficence, not only to his employees, but to his readers and to principles of quality journalism.” Opotowsky, a FAC board member, helped found the open government organization along with Hays for whom he worked as the P-E’s managing editor.

“Tim Hays was among the first publishers who agreed to join the California First Amendment Coalition when it was trying to get started in 1987. Because of his stature, his joining persuaded many others to also back the foundling,” Opotowsky recalls.
“In 1990 when it was decided that CFAC needed to raise a significant amount of money to keep its active operation going, he was the first again to put up a handsome sum and he allowed his name to be used as an endorsement to persuade other publishers to donate.
“Always discreet, for instance, he said a few words to C.K. McClatchey, head of the Bee Newspapers, but left it to a CFAC officer to make the closer.  On his retirement–and sale of The Press-Enterprise to Belo–he reluctantly agreed to a dinner in his honor sponsored by CFAC and CNPA and attended by such industry luminaries as AP President Lou Boccardi and Don Graham, head of the Washington Post.  The event raised $225,000 in gifts for CFAC which is still held as the Hays Endowment.  In 2003 CFAC gave Hays a lifetime achievement award,” Opotowsky said.

Hays was born in Chicago on June 2, 1917, and moved with his family to Riverside in 1924. He graduated from Stanford University in 1939 and earned his law degree in 1942. During World War II, he spent several years as a special agent for the FBI.

A Harvard Law School graduate, Hays passed the bar in 1946 but never practiced law: The same year, he became an assistant editor at what became the Press-Enterprise under his father, Howard H Hays Sr., who was editor and co-owner.

Hays became editor in 1949, and ultimately spent 51 years at the Press-Enterprise.

During his tenure the newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize for meritorious public service in 1968 for a series of more than 100 stories, written mostly by reporter George Ringwald, and related editorials,  that exposed malpractice in the conservatorship program for Agua Caliente Indians in Palm Springs.

In the 1980s, the newspaper’s openness-in-government crusade resulted in separate Supreme Court rulings that are now commonly referred to in First Amendment cases as Press Enterprise I and Press Enterprise II.

In the first, in 1984, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the public has a presumptive right to observe jury selection. In the second, in 1986, the court ruled 7-2 that the public has a right to view pretrial hearings, after a judge closed more than a month of preliminary hearings in another murder case.

At a 1997 retirement dinner for Mr. Hays, Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham said that Mr. Hays was “one of the great, principled editors of his generation … one of his generation’s foremost advocates of the First Amendment.”

Survivors include wife Susie Hays of St. Louis, sons Bill Hays of Corona Del Mar and Tom Hays of New York City, and brother Dan Hays of Riverside. His brother, William H. Hays, died earlier this year. Mr. Hays’ first wife, Helen Hays Yeager, died two years earlier, to the day, of Mr. Hays’ death.

According to the Press-Enterprise obituary, the family were considering plans for a memorial service. The family requested that donations in lieu of flowers be made to the UCR Foundation, 120A Highlander Hall, 900 University Ave., Riverside CA 92521.

The website is ucr.edu/giving

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