- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WESTPORT, Mass. (AP) - H.C. “Cal” Thornton, a longtime executive with United Press International and later the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, has died.

Thornton died Saturday at Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, Massachusetts, a week after being admitted with mild coronary disease, his son Peter said. He was 91.

The Lynchburg, Virginia, native began work as a reporter in the 1950s for United Press after studying philosophy at the University of Chicago. He later moved to the business side of the industry as a sales executive for United Press International in Minneapolis when UP acquired International News Service in 1958.

He served as UPI’s regional manager in Boston and Chicago and in 1971 became vice president of sales.

Thornton later joined the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, rising to president and editorial director.

He retired in 1988 and moved to Westport, Massachusetts, where he enjoyed kayaking, golf and working part time in a bait and tackle shop.

Thornton thrived on advancing the careers of journalists who worked with him, many of whom went on to success at newspapers, broadcasting and public relations, his son said.

Cal Thornton had an ineffable knack for spotting unrecognized talent and bringing it to full fruition,” said Bill Ketter, who benefited from Thornton’s mentoring. Ketter became chairman of Boston University’s journalism department, and editor of the Pulitzer Prize winning Eagle-Tribune newspaper in Massachusetts. He currently is senior vice president for Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.

Jim Wieck, a UPI news executive, said Thornton was “dignified and unflappable” and a man of his word, once getting Wieck a long-promised raise.

Thornton is survived by his wife, Sally Hand, five children, nine grandchildren, two great-great-grandchildren and his former wife. A memorial service is scheduled for Aug. 11 in Westport.

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