BusinessHealthThe Putnam Examiner

Longtime Putnam Newspaper Owner Don Hall Dies at 91

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Don Hall, the longtime owner of the Putnam County Press and the Putnam Times, died Sunday, Jan. 30. Hall was 91 and died in Putnam Hospital after battling illness for many months accompanied by frequent stays at the hospital. The official cause of death has not yet been reported. 

Hall, who lived in the Hill and Dale community in Lake Carmel, purchased the two papers in 1958. Born in New York City, Hall was a Navy veteran and in his early 20’s worked for the Heinz company selling ketchup. He summered up in Putnam County with his family as a teen then moved up in the early 1950s. 

“Don was always passionate about the paper,” said Holly Crocco, editor-in-chief of the Putnam County Press. “The paper was his baby. Don was loyal to a fault to anyone who supported the paper, and he was their friend forever.” 

Crocco said that people who knew him and worked for Hall were inspired by him. 
“People would see him stacking newspapers in the grocery store,” she said. “Often, he was open and honest and said what was on his mind, but at the same time he was very generous, giving and hardworking.” 

Apparently, Hall never considered retiring and would always show up to work at the second-floor office on South Lake Boulevard in Mahopac. He walked up the flight of steps dressed in slacks and a tie. 

Hall was very active in Putnam County Republican politics. “He knew a lot of the political leaders for many years,” said Ken Gulmi, who worked for Hall selling newspaper ad space for about three years and now works for Examiner Media as an account executive. “In later years he was more active on committees associated with the Kent Republicans.” 
Both admirers and critics of Hall over the years would both acknowledge his acerbic personality.
“Don could be a curmudgeon and took no prisoners if he disagreed with you,” Gulmi diplomatically observed. 

For years, Hall publicly clashed with a main competitor, Fox News chief Roger Ailes and his wife, Elizabeth, after the couple moved to Putnam County and bought The Putnam County News and Recorder and the Putnam County Courier in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Heated feuds between Ailes and Hall were Putnam County’s version of David and Goliath with Ailes always threatening to sue Hall and Hall promising a counter suit. A physical altercation about 10 years ago happened at a Putnam County business expo when Ailes confronted Hall, accusing him of publishing spurious information about him. Reportedly, Ailes jabbed his finger into Hall’s chest while threatening legal action. A few years later, Ailes resigned from Fox following a high-profile sex-harassment suit and in 2016 both the Putnam County News and Recorder and the Putnam County Courier were sold to editor-in-chief and Associate Publisher Douglas Cunningham. Ailes died in 2017 at the age of 77.

Hall was married for a short period of time to his wife AnnMarie and they had a daughter. Hall maintained a cordial relationship with his ex-wife until she died some years ago. His daughter died of cancer four years ago. Hall has one grandson who lives in Virginia. 

“The paper will still continue and Don’s legacy will continue,” said Crocco. “We will put him to rest before we move ahead and decide what comes next.” 

At press time information on Hall’s funeral services was not yet announced.

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