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Norman N. Newhouse, Part of Family Communications Empire, Dead at 82

November 7, 1988 GMT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Norman N. Newhouse, a low-profile newspaperman who helped establish the world’s largest family-owned communications empire, died of a heart attack. He was 82.

Newhouse died Sunday in his home.

The family’s holdings, now run by his nephews, include 26 U.S. newspapers, Conde Nast magazines, major book publishers and cable TV systems.

Like his brothers, the late Samuel I. and Theodore Newhouse, he shunned the limelight and was little known outside the newspaper business.

″We never went in for titles,″ he said in a 1985 interview. ″We are, basically, anonymous people. If I were to walk into a room in New Orleans with the 100 most prominent people in town, there may be two who would know me personally. Most would probably know the name and the connection, but they wouldn’t know me personally or recognize me by my face because my public position is non-existent.″

For the past 20 years, Newhouse was based in New Orleans, although much of his time was spent traveling to Alabama and Ohio to visit Newhouse newspapers there. He did not take a role in the day-to-day operations of The Times- Picayune, the Newhouse group’s paper in New Orleans.

Newhouse kept a low profile in keeping with the philosophy he and his brothers adhered to. That philosophy continued as other generations of the Newhouse family moved into top management.

Besides the newspapers, the family holdings - now run by S.I. Newhouse’s two sons, Samuel I. Newhouse Jr. and Donald Newhouse - include Vogue, Gourmet, Vanity Fair, HG, GQ and the New Yorker magazines, the Parade Sunday newspaper supplement, the Random House book publishing group and cable TV systems serving a million homes.

Before moving to New Orleans in 1967, Newhouse was editor of the now- defunct Long Island Press in New York and, before that, the Staten Island (N.Y.) Advance.

He started selling The Bayonne (N.J.) Times when he was 5. The price was a penny a copy, and he was allowed to keep half, plus tips.

S.I. Newhouse recalled that his brother quickly realized he could sell more if he just held one paper and said, pleadingly, ″Mister, please buy my last paper.″ As soon as he sold it, the fledgling entrepreneur would run off to get another from a nearby stack.

Newhouse attended New York University, and worked summers in the classified and advertising departments at the Advance, which S.I. Newhouse had bought in 1922. After graduation, he became a reporter, and later city editor and managing editor.

In 1937, when S.I. Newhouse bought The Long Island Press, Norman went there as editor, his last title in the newspaper business.

The Newhouse group had no formal management structure. The Newhouse brothers simply met to discuss plans and problems, and if a dispute arose, everyone deferred to S.I. Newhouse because he was the eldest.

″We were his younger brothers,″ Norman Newhouse said. ″That was all.″

Besides the New Orleans operation, Norman Newhouse was responsible for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, The Birmingham (Ala.) News, The Mobile (Ala.) Press, The Mobile Register, The Mississippi Press in Pascagoula and The Huntsville (Ala.) Times and News.

In 1971, doctors diagnosed Newhouse with leukemia and told him he had five years to live. Newhouse said he never considered retirement because nobody in his family ever did.

Newhouse is survived by his wife, Alice Gross Newhouse; his children; a sister and six grandchildren.