(1924-1994) was one of Maine’s most influential media figures. As publisher and chair of the board of Guy Gannett Communications, she controlled a company whose assets included newspapers, television channels, and multi-tenant broadcast towers. As a successful and visible citizen, Jean Gannett Hawley used her influence to raise awareness for many artistic and charitable organizations.
Jean Gannett was born in Augusta on January 16, 1924. The home of her father, Guy Gannett, is on the historic register there and was once the home of the Maine State Planning Office. She attended Bradford Junior College in Bradford, Massachusetts, where she was a music major and played the harp. After graduation, she worked in New York for the firm, Julius Matthews Special Agency. After just a year away from Maine, Jean returned to Portland to work for her father’s company, then called Guy Gannett Publishing Co. Her title was national advertising manager until 1953.
That year, she was named executive vice president of the publishing company. Her responsibilities included oversight of the daily newspapers, a challenge made more difficult by the absence of other women in similar positions. But Jean excelled in the boardrooms, and her gender was not a drawback to her success.
Jean Gannett Hawley expanded and diversified her company’s holdings, and changed the name to Guy Gannett Communications. The new name reflected the company’s interest in television and computer kiosks as well as print media. Guy Gannett Communications’ holdings included the Portland Press Herald, the Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal, and the broadcast station WGME-TV.
Jean Gannett Hawley personally supported a range of local causes in Maine. From 1960 until 1972 she was on the Colby College Board of Trustees. The college awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1959. She put particular and invaluable focus on that school’s Museum of Art. She also headed many fund-raising campaigns for the Portland Symphony Orchestra and the Multiple Sclerosis Society, among other. A Maine women with talent and drive, Jean Hawley never stopped helping her neighbors in need, and she always fought for art and music.
Jean Gannett Hawley worked until her death on September 4, 1994. At that point, her niece Madeleine Corson became chair of the board of Guy Gannett Communications. In 1998, the company was bought by Blethen Maine Newspapers, a division of Seattle Times Company.
“Jean Gannett Hawley, Portland, Maine (AP)” [obituary]:
“Jean Gannett Hawley, L.H.D. ’59”
Zuver, Dudley. The Lengthened Shadow of a Maine Man: a Biography of Guy P. Gannett. Freeport, Me. Bond Wheelwright Co. c1956.
Contributed by Karen L. Sherlock, Edgecomb, Maine, 2008.