Enquirer Herald

Former publisher, friend of York, dies

YORK -- Oscar "Ned" Burgess Jr., a man who once said he had printer's ink in his blood, died last week at his home in Charlotte. He was 80.

For 20 years he was the publisher of the Yorkville Enquirer, now the Enquirer-Herald.

He was a true newspaper man, said Jim Owen of Clover, publisher of The Clover Herald at the time Burgess was at the Enquirer. Together, the men owned Carolina Newspapers Inc.

"We built the papers from four-page papers to, in the good years, 24 pages per paper," Owen said. "We had a great relationship. I'll miss his friendship."

From 1960 until 1980, Burgess was the face of the Enquirer, said Ronnie Bailes of The Men's Shop.

"Not only did he co-own the paper, but he came down Main Street and sold ads, too," Bailes said. "He did whatever it took to help the paper."

Even after retiring, Burgess often came back to town to support York businesses, Bailes said. He bought cars from the Ford dealership and suits from The Men's Shop.

"The last thing he bought from me was a seersucker suit," Bailes said. "It was one of his favorite items."

Bailes remembers Burgess' dry sense of humor.

"We always had a good time with Ned," he said. "He was a very approachable man. His doors were always open."

Owen agreed, adding that his newspaper colleague was easy to work with.

"He was very devoted to the operation," Owen said. "In those days, it was an all-day job with a limited staff. We did all the news and advertising, and he even operated the Linotype. We just pitched in and worked."

One of Burgess' hires was former editor Gene Graham, who started as a sports stringer making 80 cents an article. Burgess quickly became a mentor to Graham, who recalls his success as a businessman.

"There was a time when he masterminded printing contracts for Carolina Newspapers," Graham said. "As many as 25 publications used our little four-unit press in York, including Fort Mill, Chester, Blacksburg and Gastonia weeklies and Winthrop's Johnsonian. Because of Ned's ties to Winn-Dixie management, our papers had double-truck ads every week and printed more than 100,000 Winn-Dixie circulars monthly.

"Ned had brilliant communication and people skills. That's what made him successful."

After leaving York, Burgess worked at the library at McClintock Junior High School in Charlotte.

Burgess is survived by his wife of 54 years, Nancy, son Jonathan Burgess, daughter Nancy Fuller and several grandchildren.

Read his complete obituary on page 3B.

Also, Gene Graham writes a special tribute to his mentor on 1B.