Called Home to Glory: Lee Anderson, Elder at First Presbyterian Church and Former Chattanooga Free Press Publisher

Lee Stratton Anderson, the former publisher of the Chattanooga Free Press who died in Atlanta early Thursday, June 16, morning at age 90

Widely known and respected as a patriot, Christian and civic leader, Anderson was one of the longest-serving newspapermen in the nation when he retired in 2012…. Hussman said he remembers Anderson’s dedication to his job, his community and his church, First Presbyterian, where his eponymous Sunday school class once drew 450 people. Hussman also remembers his energy. When Hussman bought the Free Press, Anderson was 72.

 

“I know of no one who has left a more substantial impression on this city than Lee Anderson in his position as editor of the Free Press. He was a very solid Christian gentleman and provided guidance for so many people in the positions that he explained and the positions that he took as editor of the paper. He exemplified those attributes that most of us can only aspire to attain.”

Lee Stratton Anderson, the former publisher of the Chattanooga Free Press who died in Atlanta early Thursday, June 16, morning at age 90, is remembered as a principled, consistent conservative who loved his family, his work, his community and country.

Widely known and respected as a patriot, Christian and civic leader, Anderson was one of the longest-serving newspapermen in the nation when he retired in 2012.

Walter E. Hussman Jr., publisher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press and chairman of Little Rock, Ark.-based WEHCO Media, called Anderson “a true gentlemen and a great newspaperman.”

Hussman bought the Free Press from the McDonald family in 1998, but he met Anderson years before that. They got to know each other at gatherings such as the Southern Newspapers Publishers Association’s annual convention. “Everybody in the industry thought so highly of him,” Hussman said.

Hussman said he remembers Anderson’s dedication to his job, his community and his church, First Presbyterian, where his eponymous Sunday school class once drew 450 people. Hussman also remembers his energy. When Hussman bought the Free Press, Anderson was 72. “And he was driving a Corvette and playing tennis several times a week and working long hours at the paper,” Hussman said.

“I feel really lucky that I got to know him and work with him,” Hussman said. “It’s been one of the real pleasures of my career, working with Lee.”

Anderson began what became a legendary 70-year career at the Chattanooga Free Press at age 16. He wrote feature stories and worked every news beat — from police to business to courts — before covering the Tennessee legislature and politics at all levels of government, including five national presidential conventions.

He started writing editorials for the newspaper in 1948 and was named editor in April 1958. His role in the newsroom, however, extended beyond the editorial page. He directed news coverage for several decades through various department editors.

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