Karl V. Anton, Jr., publisher and editor-in-chief of Anton Community Newspapers, died Saturday morning at his home in North Merrick with his wife Angela Susan Anton by his side. His death followed a short illness of cancer. He was 81 years old.
Karl V. Anton, Jr.
Mr. Anton published the Glen Cove Record-Pilot, Great Neck Record, Manhasset Press, Port Washington News, The Roslyn News, The Westbury Times, Oyster Bay Enterprise-Pilot, Mineola American, Garden City Life, The Illustrated News, Hicksville Illustrated News, Syosset-Jericho Tribune, Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald, Levittown Tribune, Farmingdale Observer, Massapequan Observer, Three Village Times and Floral Park Dispatch.
Mr. Anton and his family have early roots in the newspaper business, his father having published the Freeport Recorder in the 1920s. As a young man following in his father's footsteps, he founded Merrick Life in 1938 and developed it into a viable newspaper. Though he sold Merrick Life in 1952, his love of the newspaper business remained, an affinity he would see flourish later in his life.
Mr. Anton had begun working for the Long Island Lighting Company before the sale of Merrick Life. In 1953 while working there in the printing department, he became impressed with the ink being used, a high quality, fast drying ink manufactured by the Dutch company Van Son Holland Inc. He recognized then the impact this ink would have on small printing businesses and saw the marketing potential of the ink as a business opportunity for himself. A trip to the Netherlands that year resulted in Mr. Anton purchasing the marketing rights of Van Son Holland ink in North America, Canada, Great Britain and Australia. His company, Van Son Holland Ink of America was thus born. His small business operated originally from the basement of his house in Merrick. Due to his foresight and keen business sense, over the years the once small business emerged into his privately owned company based in Mineola with annual sales of $45 million. He commanded a virtual handle on the market with his highly regarded line of printing products and supplies. Mr. Anton owned Van Son Holland Ink of America through 1995.
During the 1980s, Mr. Anton ventured into other businesses, including Captain Bill's Commodore Inn, a popular restaurant in Bay Shore and AQN Associates Inc., a Glen Cove based development company.
In 1984, satisfying his lifelong desire to return to the newspaper business, Mr. Anton purchased Community Newspapers Inc., a group of eight paid subscription weekly newspapers based in Glen Cove, all of which have historical significance. The Roslyn News bears the earliest founding date of 1877. The other papers in this original group are the Glen Cove Record-Pilot, Great Neck Record, Port Washington News, Manhasset Press, Oyster Bay Enterprise-Pilot, The Westbury Times and the Long-Islander, founded by Walt Whitman. Shortly following this purchase, he began acquiring other newspapers to add to his well-established group.
In deciding to focus on the Nassau County market, Mr. Anton sold the Suffolk County papers he owned by then, including the Long-Islander, Northport Journal and Record newspapers. Anton Community Newspapers, presently numbering 18, are well-respected by their readership and have a circulation of 75,000 with a strong advertising base.
Mr. Anton was actively involved in all aspects of Anton Community Newspapers, working closely with his employees, who value the sense of family he has created in the company. He set high journalistic standards for the papers, having always been aware of the responsible role local newspapers play in informing their readership of the full spectrum of community life. Well-balanced coverage of local government and school news, while highlighting the activities of local people, organizations and businesses were of great importance to him. He read Letters to the Editor columns with much interest and was glad to see the columns active. Mr. Anton took great pleasure working in the Mineola offices every day where he was in his element. Newspaper work for him was a joy.
Mr. Anton served on the New York Press Association Board of Directors, an association of New York State paid subscription weekly newspapers with offices in Albany.
"As immediate past president of the New York Press Association, I note with sadness the passing of Karl V. Anton, a former board member and benefactor of the N.Y.P.A. and a champion of quality community journalism in New York State," stated Clifford Richner, publisher of Richner Communications in Lawrence.
"Karl gave of his time and his money whenever he was called upon. His generous support of the Press Association's educational mission will live on in perpetuity through the Grace Anton Memorial Fund, which he established in the memory of his wife of 50 years. The fund provides college scholarships to New York students pursuing a career in journalism," noted Mr. Richner.
A philanthropist all his life, Mr. Anton responded graciously and quietly when he knew there were needs to be met in local communities. He was a member of the executive board of the Theodore Roosevelt Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He was a member of the board of directors of North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center as well as the Long Island Chapter of the American Liver Foundation.
Mr. Anton's wife, Angela Susan Anton, will succeed him in the role of publisher of Anton Community Newspapers.
Nassau County Executive Thomas Gulotta said, "I have lost a good friend and Nassau County has lost an outstanding businessman, philanthropist and visionary. Our prayers and sympathies go out to Angela and Karl's family. As publisher of Anton Newspapers, Karl set the finest example in professional journalism. He has left us a legacy of compassion and caring that has enriched and fullfilled the lives of all he touched. His legacy will live on through each of us and through the Anton Newspapers under the able leadership of Karl's wife, Angela."
Glen Cove Mayor Thomas Suozzi stated, "From the first time I met him, and in many subsequent conversations, Karl would say, 'Reporting the news is an essential part of the newspaper, but equally important is promoting student achievements, successes and events that are happening in the classrooms, on the ball fields, in the civic organizations, and throughout the neighborhoods and downtowns'."
He is survived by his wife Angela; two daughters, Beth and Kristen; two sons, Jonathan and Drew; and four grandchildren. Mr. Anton's first wife, Grace, died in 1993 after a 50 year marriage.
Funeral arrangements were under the direction of the N.F. Walker Funeral Home in Merrick, with a service held on Monday evening, July 10, at the funeral home. Burial was on Tuesday morning, July 11, in Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury.
Donations to the American Liver Foundation, 80 Wall St., New York, N.Y. 10005 would be received gratefully.