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Longtime Sumter Item publisher Hubert Osteen Jr. dies

December 15, 2020 GMT
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Hubert D. Osteen Sr. looks at his final retirement check on Dec. 1, 1986, as his son, Hubert D. Osteen Jr., to the far left, oldest grandson, Graham Osteen, and friends look on. Longtime former publisher of The Sumter Item Hubert Duvall Osteen Jr. has died. He was 84. The newspaper reported Osteen died Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020 at home. It did not give a cause of death. (The Item via AP)
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Hubert D. Osteen Sr. looks at his final retirement check on Dec. 1, 1986, as his son, Hubert D. Osteen Jr., to the far left, oldest grandson, Graham Osteen, and friends look on. Longtime former publisher of The Sumter Item Hubert Duvall Osteen Jr. has died. He was 84. The newspaper reported Osteen died Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020 at home. It did not give a cause of death. (The Item via AP)

SUMTER, S.C. (AP) — Hubert Duvall Osteen Jr., who worked at his family newspaper The Sumter Item starting when he was 13 and rose to publisher, died Sunday. He was 84.

Osteen’s death was announced by the newspaper where he became the fourth generation to join the family business. Two more generations of Osteens have started work there since.

No cause of death was given. Osteen died at home, The Sumter Item reported.

Osteen wasn’t just handed the family business. He had journalism degrees from the University of Missouri and Columbia University and served three years in the U.S. Air Force, spending time in Korea and Vietnam.

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But newspapers and Sumter were Osteen’s main loves. He successfully fought police when they confiscated his photographer’s camera at a train wreck and sued a coroner who refused to release a report that would eventually show a man shot by police was wounded in the back and had no gunpowder residue on his hands even though officers said he fired at them.

“Hubert stood up for his beliefs and the public’s right to know. At a time when family owned newspapers were declining, Hubert led his paper to growth and excellence. While he grew and improved the print product, he showed pride and acceptance as his paper added digital products,” South Carolina Press Association Executive Director Bill Rogers said.

Osteen loved his community too, serving on numerous boards and supporting a number of charities. He was critical to Sumter’s work revitalizing downtown.

“He was a hard worker. He was honest, and he told you exactly what he thought, no matter what. He also had a great sense of humor that I enjoyed and appreciated. Mr. Osteen was a professional in his field and a community advocate who looked out for the greater good,” Assistant City Manager Howie Owens said.

The Osteen family has been involved with newspapers in Sumter for at least 150 years. When Hubert Osteen Jr. retired from Osteen Publishing Company Inc., he turned the company over to his three sons.

“He was a wonderful father, an iconic newspaperman and a mentor to many journalists throughout the state. He taught us all the family business, cared deeply about his community and will be remembered as a great friend and leader,” his sons Graham, Kyle and Jack Osteen said in a statement.