Melvin Stone – who owned Maine newspapers and radio and television stations and witnessed the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals shortly after World War II – died Friday at the Cedars retirement community in Portland. He was 96.

Stone, a Portland native and longtime resident of the city, served more than four years in the Army during World War II and in the years following to help reconstruct Germany. Stone married Frances Marsha Lempert of Lewiston on July 23, 1944, before he left for Europe.

Stone grew up on Munjoy Hill and graduated from Portland High School in 1938.

An Army captain, Stone was a combat engineer but did not see combat action, his family said. He served in Europe during the waning months of World War II.

“His job was putting bridges over rivers,” said his son Chuck Stone. “He was building the bridges that the tanks would go over.”

After World War II ended, he lived near Nuremberg, Germany with Fran, as the Army was working to reconstruct the Bavarian city.


“One of his biggest jobs was to hire German civilians to help do the work to rebuild German society,” Chuck Stone said.

Stone said his dad – a journalist by trade, having graduated with a journalism-business degree from Boston University in 1943 – witnessed history by watching some of the Nuremberg trials, which resulted in death penalty convictions for a dozen Nazi war criminals. The Nazis under Adolf Hitler murdered 6 million Jews in concentration camps.

Stone said his father did not talk much about the Nuremberg trials but was proud of his service to help rebuild Germany.

Melvin Stone was previously president and campaign chairman of the Portland Jewish Federation and vice president of Temple Beth El, and was also involved with the Jewish War Veterans Post.

When the Stones returned to Maine after his military service ended, they originally settled in Rumford. Stone purchased the Rumford Publishing Co., which operated the Rumford Falls Times weekly newspaper. Eventually, they published the Wilton Times, Westbrook American and the Rangeley Record weekly newspapers.

The family moved to Portland in the late 1950s to launch a radio station, WLOB-AM, said another son, David Stone.


Melvin Stone ended up owning nine AM and FM radio stations and the Channel 7 television station in Bangor. He was treasurer of the Maine Press Association and the first president of the New England Press Association. He later brokered the sale of dozens of radio stations, and didn’t retire until age 84.

“He was very sociable,” said Chuck Stone. “There wasn’t a person alive he couldn’t strike up a conversation with.”

David Stone said that his mother and father “were very good together. They were model parents for us.”

Fran died on Oct. 28, 2015.

“He always believed in the bright side of human character,” David Stone said.

In addition to sons Chuck and David, survivors include grandchildren, great-grandchildren and step great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Temple Beth El in Portland.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: