The man credited as a weekly newspaper pioneer in Maine, who also served as a state legislator known for his special interest in education, has died.

Roger V. Snow Jr. of Falmouth, a former editor and publisher of the forerunner to the American Journal, died at 88 on Sunday, Sept. 24, in Portland.

Snow leaves a widow, Lee Snow, and four children and six grandchildren.

The couple married in 1956 and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in March. As a family, they shared skiing, boating and picnicking.

“A great gift to all of us. He was a wonderful family man,” his widow said Wednesday.

Snow bought the Westbrook American in 1953 and founded the Cape Elizabeth and South Portland Journal. Snow sold both papers to Harry Foote in 1965, who combined them into the Westbrook American Journal.

Foote said Snow, then a reporter for the Portland Press Herald, bought the Westbrook American when a Portland newspaper union went on strike. Foote said Snow had family ties with the Guy Gannett family, which published Portland papers, and Snow was reluctant to strike.

Snow’s solution was to enter the newspaper business for himself. “He resigned and bought the Westbrook American from Melvin Stone,” Foote recalled.

Foote called Snow a pioneer in weeklies in the metro area of Southern Maine.

“He believed in weeklies long before most people did,” Foote said. “I think of him as the grandfather of the many weekly papers around us these days.”

Snow, who was born in 1918, attended Deering High School, where Foote’s wife, Anne Foote, was a classmate. “He drove his own car to school when the rest of us all walked,” Anne Foote said. “We were pretty impressed.”

After attending Deerfield Academy, Snow graduated from Williams College in 1940. During World War II, Snow worked at the New England Shipbuilding Co. in South Portland.

He didn’t serve in the military because of a leg disability from birth. But the disability didn’t get him down.

“He was always upbeat,” Harry Foote said. “A great, good spirit.”

He came from a long line of Republicans. However, he switched to the Democratic Party earlier on the same day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Nov. 22, 1963.

Snow served two terms as a Maine state senator and one term as a member of the House of Representatives. He was active in local politics as well. He served as a town councilor in Falmouth and as chairman of the Democratic Town Committee.

Foote said Snow once sought the Democratic nomination to run for the U.S. Senate against Margaret Chase Smith.

Lee Snow said that her husband’s father, a lawyer, wrote the Maine state song. She said her husband enjoyed music, and classical and jazz were his favorites.

As publisher of the Westbrook American, he supported Westbrook Little League. Although his aunt, Joan Whitney Payson, owned the New York Mets, Lee Snow said her husband didn’t follow professional sports.

Roger Snow was interested in education and served as Senate chair of the legislature’s Education Committee. He sponsored legislation to consolidate the university system.

In 1973, he became director of public information and publications for the University of Southern Maine, and retired from that position in 1983. Snow was a mentor to Bob Caswell, the current director, who succeeded Snow.

“He was a great people person,” Caswell said. “A fantastic mentor for me.”

Caswell said Snow was the first reporter to file an eyewitness account of the forest fire that swept the Bar Harbor area in 1947. Caswell said Snow got the story by talking his way onto a Navy destroyer in Portland that was bound for Bar Harbor.

Lee Snow said that her husband had been an aviation editor for Guy Gannett papers and was a pilot.

“He flew Mr. Gannett around in the company plane,” she said.

Caswell said Snow had many abilities.

“He was the most interesting person I ever met,” Caswell said. “He was full of stories.”

A funeral service with reception will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church, 43 Foreside Road, Falmouth. Burial will be at Pine Grove Cemetery, Falmouth. Arrangements are by Jones, Rich & Hutchins Funeral Home, Portland.

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