former publisher of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Helen K
Copley, has died at the age of 81. She had began working
at the newspaper as a secretary, and was publisher of
the newspaper and its predecessors for nearly three
Copley took over as publisher after the death in 1973 of
her husband, James S Copley. Upon her retirement in
2001, she handed over the Copley Press Inc to her son,
David C Copley.
Colonel Ira C Copley. "Not only was she a great mother,
but she was a great mentor, teacher and colleague," said
David Copley. "As she did, I will proudly keep our
Born Margaret Helen Kinney, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, she
served in the navy and married in the 1940s. After the
marriage ended, she moved with her mother to San Diego
She was hired as one of three secretaries to James
Copley, who had become chief executive officer in 1947
after his fatherís death.
Helen and Jim Copley married in 1965. Eight years later,
he died of brain cancer.
Copley worked to keep the business in family hands. In
the early 1990s, she merged the morning newspaper, the
San Diego Union, and the afternoon Tribune. It is the
third-largest newspaper in California.
While she was publisher, her newspapers won two Pulitzer
Prizes. She remained publisher emeritus of the newspaper
and chairman emeritus of the company. The Copley Press
owns nine daily newspapers and other publications in
California, Illinois and Ohio. It also operates the
Copley also was involved in philanthropy, helping secure
a home for the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and
underwriting the library at the University of San Diego.
She also was appointed as one of eight trustees to
oversee the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a
biomedical research and education organization that grew
to have an endowment of $11.3 billion last year.
She was listed last year by Forbes magazine as 279th
among the nationís richest Americans, with assets
estimated at $960 million.
In addition to her son, she is also survived by two
stepchildren from her husbandís first marriage.