MANCHESTER, N.H. -- William Loeb, the fiery, conservative newspaper publisher who attacked presidents and potentates, was eulogized Thursday at a memorial service attended by more than 1,000 people.
Loeb, publisher of the Union Leader newspaper in Manchester and the New Hampshire Sunday News, died Sept. 13 of cancer. He was 75.
'We have all lost a true friend, the state and nation have been deprived of one of the vanishing breed of crusading editors,' said George E. Connell, general manager emeritus of the Loeb newspapers.
Connell said to the 'far-flung readers of his editorials' Loeb was a 'two-fisted, hard-hitting journalist who never pulled punches in his relentless fight for what he believed was right and good.'
Loeb's public image was based on his signed, epithet-laced, front-page editorials that gained him national attention, especially during New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
But Connell, who served as general manager of the newspaper from 1960 to 1977, said those who knew Loeb better knew that he was a man of 'deep feeling and genuine compassion.'
In his editorials, Loeb made no bones about how he felt about a person or an issue. But he felt his health was his own business. He did not let his readers know he was suffering from cancer. There was no public funeral service.
Loeb's wife, Nackey Scripps Loeb -- confined to a wheelchair since a 1977 car crash in Nevada -- sat in the front of the church for the nearly hour-long service, her hands clasped in a prayerful pose in her lap or under her chin.
Tributes to the late publisher flowed in from the White House and the common man. President Reagan called Loeb 'a patriot and a man of deep conviction who had the courage to speak frankly and forcefully.'
The Union Leader offices closed from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday so employees could attend.
Close friends remembered Loeb as a warm and gracious individual who loved to take annual fishing trips into the wilderness of New Brunswick, Canada.
Retired advertising executive Peter Agrafiotis of Manchester in his eulogy said Loeb 'didn't fit the image most people had of him, that of Zeus standing on top of Mt. Olympus, hurling editorial thunderbolts.'
'He was a devoted husband, a good father and an outstanding boss. When it came to his newspapers, all who worked for him were part of large, closely knit family and he treated them accordingly,' said Connell, in an emotion-choked voice.
A long-time Union Leader reader from Hooksett, Paul Howe, described Loeb as a man who 'stepped on a lot of toes, but he always told the truth.'
Mrs. Loeb is the granddaughter of E.W. Scripps, founder of the Scripps Howard newspaper chain and United Press, forerunner of United Press International. The Loebs have homes in Reno, Nev., and the Prides Crossing section of Beverly, Mass.
Several state judges, retired Sen. Norris Cotton, R-N.H., and former Gov. Meldrim Thomson and his family attended the service. Gov. Hugh Gallen and members of the state's congressional delegation sent representatives.
Also attending was Charles E. Scripps, Mrs. Scripps' brother and chairman of the board of the E.W. Scripps Co.