Miami Times trailblazer Garth Reeves Sr. dies at 100, just months after the passing of his daughter.
COMPILED FROM STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS
Garth C. Reeves Sr., the iconic publisher of the Miami Times, one of America’s oldest and most respected Black newspapers, died Monday. He had turned 100 on Feb. 12.
The Miami Times has been named best Black newspaper numerous times by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), which represents the Black Press, most recently in 2013, 2018 and 2019.
The numerous accolades of the newspaper giant and civil rights activist included induction into the National Association of Black Journalists’ 2017 Hall of Fame class.
A family business
He was born on Feb. 12, 1919 in Nassau, Bahamas. His family moved to Miami just months after he was born.
His father, Harry Ethelbert Sigismund Reeves, was a partner in The Magic Printing Company and founder of the Miami Times; his mother, a homemaker.
In 1970, Garth Sr. was named publisher and chief executive officer of the Miami Times when his father died.
Garth Sr. had groomed his son, Garth Jr., to take over the newspaper. But in 1982, Garth Jr. died at age 30 of colon cancer. Garth Sr. stayed on to run the Miami Times, and he thought he would sell the paper because he didn’t see his daughter as its publisher.
However, Rachel Reeves took the helm when Garth Sr. retired in 1994. Rachel passed away on Sept. 12 this year at age 69 after a long illness.
Her son, Garth Basil Reeves, had taken on some publishing responsibilities of the Miami Times over the past six years. Garth Basil graduated from Emory University in Georgia. After graduation, he was promoted to vice president of business development.
After the passing of Rachel Reeves in September, Florida Courier Publisher Charles W. Cherry II reflected on the Reeves’ importance to the Black Press and South Florida.
“The Reeves family is considered to be like royalty among Black newspaper publishers around the country. And you can’t mention the history of Miami-Dade County without mentioning them and the critical importance of the Miami Times in the historical, economic and cultural development of South Florida,” he said.
“For almost 100 years, the Miami Times has ‘pleaded the cause’ of Black Miami in the best tradition of the Black Press. I know that will continue.’’
A storied career
After graduating from Booker T. Washington High School in Miami in 1936, Garth C. Reeves Sr. enrolled in Florida A&M where he earned his B.A. degree in printing in 1940. Reeves served in the U.S. Army during World War II from 1942 to 1946.
Reeves went on to become the first African American to serve on the governing boards of the Miami-Dade Community College, Barry University, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, and the United Way of Dade County.
He also served as organizing chairman of the board for National Industrial Bank, which was the first integrated bank in Florida. During the 1950s, Reeves worked to integrate the local beaches, parks, and golf courses.
Positions included 10 years as president of the Amalgamated Publishers of New York City, which represents over 100 African American-owned newspapers throughout the country. He was also elected to serve two terms as president of the NNPA.
‘A remarkable life’
Reeves was a life member of the NAACP, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and a founding member of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation in Miami. He was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Miami, Barry University and Florida Memorial University.
In a statement, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said, “Mr. Reeves led a remarkable life-promoting equality and civil rights as a veteran, journalist, community activist, and owner of The Miami Times.
“We will continue to rejoice over his life marked by his many incredible accomplishments and the profound impact he made to drive our community forward as a more inclusive and equitable place for all.”
Also in a statement, Miami-Dade County Commission Chairwoman Audrey M. Edmondson called Garth C. Reeves Sr. a “true pillar and trailblazer for the African American community.
“As an outstanding journalist and publisher of The Miami Times, he provided a platform for the Black voices of Miami. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and all those whose lives he touched,’’ she added.