Longtime newspaperman dies

Published 9:10 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2020

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A man raised in Suffolk with journalism in his genes died April 8 after a battle with cancer.

Thomas Francis Missett, 79, was born in 1940 and moved with his family to Suffolk two years later, when his father, William J. “Bill” Missett, became editor of the Suffolk News-Herald. Missett would go on to become editor and publisher and held those positions for many years until the paper was sold in 1961.

According to an obituary for Thomas Missett in Publishers’ Auxiliary, he was working at the paper beginning at age 8 — first delivering a paper route with his older brother, and then working in the mailroom, Linotype and ad departments.

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“He even appointed himself as assistant circulation manager before he was 10, igniting his lifelong passion for newspapers,” the obituary states.

In 1962, Missett married his high school sweetheart, Sandra Hicks, and moved to Casper, Wyo., where he was classified advertising manager of the Casper Star Tribune. From there, he went to Hammond, Ind., to run the classified department at the Hammond Times before moving to Oceanside, Calif., to become publisher of the Blade-Tribune. He was 26 when he arrived there, becoming the youngest publisher of a daily newspaper in the United States at the time.

The Blade-Tribune was awarded the contract to publish several military newspapers, including U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton’s paper, The Scout, which received the Thomas Jefferson Award for Best Military Newspaper Worldwide for several years.

Missett served as president of the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce in 1978, helped his brother start the World Bodysurfing Contest held in Oceanside and was a supporter of the local Boys and Girls Club. In 1997, he started Signs of Support, raising money so that all local children could have the opportunity to play sports.

Missett is survived by his partner, Dinah Minteer; his first wife, Sandra Hicks Missett, and their children Joan (Hal Gambill), Mike (Tracy) and Kathy (Matt Goldman); his second wife, Gayla Rothi, and their son, Austin; Dinah’s children, Courtney and Kellen; his brothers, Jim (Jane) and Jack (Judi); sister, Kate; grandchildren, Samantha and Madison Missett, Garrett and Gracyn Gambill and Evan and Riley Goldman; and many other family and friends, as well as his dog, Gabby.

In lieu of flowers, memorials in his name to the Oceanside Boys and Girls Club were requested by the family.