SYRACUSE, N.Y. — S.I. Newhouse Jr., the son of the namesake of Syracuse University’s Newhouse School and prolific magazine publisher, died Sunday in New York. He was 89.
Newhouse’s company, Advance Publications, operates numerous regional newspapers around the country, including Syracuse.com | The Post-Standard. It also owns Conde Nast, which publishes national magazines such as The New Yorker, GQ, Vanity Fair and others.
The family paid tribute to Newhouse on Sunday, describing him as “the first person to come to the office, arriving well before dawn” and a person who brought “visionary creative spirit coupled with no-nonsense business.”
Obituaries published Sunday — in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Variety and elsewhere — describe him as a socially awkward introvert who rarely granted interviews. But he’s being lauded as a kingmaker behind the scenes in the magazine world and as a hands-off owner who granted editors he hired immense freedom and resources.
He’s credited with reviving well-known magazines like The New Yorker, Glamour and Vanity Fair thanks to his keen eye for visionary editors, including Anna Wintour, who was portrayed by Meryl Streep in the 2006 film “The Devil Wears Prada.”
Newhouse was a well-known face in elite New York City social circles and spent lavishly on his art collection and on the magazines his company owned.
Bob Sauerberg, president and chief executive officer of Conde Nast, said, “Today, we lost a giant.”
In addition to his success in publishing, Newhouse and his family helped develop Syracuse University’s top journalism school: the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, named after his father, Samuel Irving Newhouse Sr., who died in 1979.
In 2003, Newhouse Jr. and his family donated $15 million to the school, allowing it to build “Newhouse III” — an iconic campus building with the text of the First Amendment wrapped around it that connected the school.
“He loves magazines, meaning the whole and all of it, the variety of things published, the business details, the visions and actions and personalities of his editors, the problems, the problem-solving, the ink and paper … the all of it,” New Yorker editor David Remnick told New York magazine in 2009.
Newhouse lived with his second wife, Victoria, an architectural historian, in a Manhattan apartment near the United Nations and in a house in Bellport, Long Island. Newhouse had two sons and a daughter by his first wife, Jane Franke.
A former member of the board of the Museum of Modern Art, Newhouse had a major collection of modern art including works by Picasso, Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns. He was also a major movie buff and enjoyed theater and the opera.
And early in his career, when he was in charge of the Random House book publisher, he spotted a magazine profile about a rising young real estate mogul and was inspired to commission the first book of a future president, Donald Trump’s “The Art of the Deal.”
Samuel Irving Newhouse Jr. was born Nov. 8, 1927, in Staten Island, the grandson of Russian Jewish immigrants. His father, Sam Newhouse, bought the Staten Island Advance in 1922 and used its profits to buy more papers. The Newhouses became one of the world’s richest families.
Newhouse had a tough time at Syracuse University. He dropped out his junior year and began working at his father’s newspapers and eventually rose to become an industry leader.
In 2016, Newhouse’s brother, Donald, wrote that Newhouse suffered from dementia.
The Newhouse School took to Twitter, calling Newhouse “our friend” and sharing an extensive obituary in The New York Times.
Lorraine Branham, the school’s dean, said the junior Newhouse and his brother, Donald, were “unflagging” supporters of the school whose generosity has helped generations of students.
“Their backing made so many things possible — including the school’s remarkable facilities — and their influence positively impacted generations of students and alumni who, in turn, made their own mark on the communications industry,” she said in a statement on the school’s website.
We mourn the loss of our friend Si Newhouse https://t.co/q05WcupTAm
— Newhouse School (@NewhouseSU) October 1, 2017
The family’s full statement is below:
Magazine publishing legend Si Newhouse has died. Memo from Conde: pic.twitter.com/Xb56MdFuhd
— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) October 1, 2017
The Associated Press contributed to this report.