Community loses long-time publisher
By DEB WUETHRICH
Last week, Tecumseh lost a man dedicated not only to his family, but the Tecumseh community. James C. Lincoln, publisher of the Tecumseh Herald, passed away at Tecumseh Place II on Thursday, Jan. 8, following declining health due to Alzheimer’s.
On October 3, 1957, Lincoln purchased the Herald with his partner, Tom Riordan. He had studied journalism at Ohio Wesleyan University and brought his zest for the profession to the small city he would call home for the remainder of his life. Lincoln and his wife, Dorothy, raised two children, Katherine and James, here. Lincoln became the sole owner of the paper in 1967.
Mayor Harvey Schmidt remembered Lincoln as a man who was not afraid to stand up for what he believed in. “When he felt strongly about an issue and if he thought it was not in the best interest of the community he would come out strong on the issue and say so in the newspaper,” Schmidt said. “He would do this whether it was for or against an issue.” Schmidt said being a long time member on the Tecumseh City Council, there were times that he would see both sides of that coin.
“But he never let the coverage or his opinion interfere with his relationships with people,” Schmidt said. “He’d just tell you how he felt and sometimes it would be in print.”
At his funeral service, Lincoln’s son told a story of how some prime players in the community received his dad’s reportage following a Tecumseh Products strike. “The Company called to talk to dad about his siding with the Union,” Lincoln, said. “Then the Union called to talk about his siding with the Company.” A newsman could ask for no greater compliment. His son said he could have had no greater mentor or role model.
Lincoln’s fair and generous character also garnered him a great deal of loyalty among those who worked for him at the Tecumseh Herald, many who have been long-term staff members. Just a few of the memories and impressions follow:
• He was “King of the Pranksters” — one staff member faced her 40th birthday with a full-page tabloid about her that made its way throughout the community. “I loved him anyway,” she said. Staff said he loved a good joke and they had to be ready for anything. His sense of humor extended to joking with staff over his strong support of Ohio State University, especially with those whose loyalties were with the University of Michigan.
• His generosity was legendary. One staff member lost a lot of weight, and was given a gift certificate to a department store for some new clothes. “He was into you. He wanted to know what was happening in your life and with your family.” That generosity extended out into the community with membership in service organizations, a presence at the famed “Roundtable” at the former Don’s Beef Buffet, and even into another community when Lincoln supported the start-up of another couple’s community newspaper.
• He was like a father to those whose own father’s didn’t live locally, and a surrogate grandfather to his employee’s children who were always welcome at the newspaper’s offices.
• He believed in the family business, and was proud to be able to keep the Herald operating independent of the chains, despite growing pressure to do so as the industry changed over the years.
• Even in his retirement, he kept his hand in for quite a while going after the police report. One staff member remembers helping him type it out each week — after he had pounded out the preliminaries on an old electric typewriter.
• His telling of the old stories, from childhood days on the farm, to the city’s evolving history over his 50 years as publisher. Staff members recall how periodically, an old photo would surface showing Henry Ford and several prominent community members sitting on the steps of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church where Lincoln was a member. “No matter how many times he told the stories, I loved to hear them,” said one staff member.
“I will always remember and be impressed by his knowledge of local history and the community, as well as how outspoken he was on the things he believed in,” said another staff member. “That to me, really summed up Jim Lincoln. He was a very community-oriented person.”