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Published: Tuesday, 5/22/2001

Ex-newspaper executive was MCO trustee

Wayne G. Current, 89, retired vice president and director of development for The Blade, a local cable television pioneer, and a former trustee of the Medical College of Ohio, was found dead Sunday in his car in the garage of his home on Deepwood Lane in South Toledo.

Mr. Current's daughter, Carol Current, said yesterday that her father had been in poor health for several years and had been lonely since the death of his wife, Clarice, in late 1996.

Dr. James Patrick, Lucas County coroner, said Mr. Current's death is an apparent suicide due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Former associates recalled Mr. Current - one of the founders of the former Lima Citizen newspaper - as a tough executive known for his sales ability and organizational skills.

Mr. Current was an imposing figure. He was a tall man with a sometimes gruff voice.

“He was a forthright executive, a strong executive” said John D. Willey, retired Blade president and associate publisher. “He was pretty firm, and he worked hard. He was also instrumental in acquisitions.” In the mid-1960s, Mr. Current and Mr. Willey helped what is now Buckeye CableSystem get its start.

C. Lee Nelson, a retired Owens-Illinois, Inc., vice president and former Medical College of Ohio trustee, recalled Mr. Current as a forceful trustee for MCO for nine years after he was appointed in 1974 by Gov. John Gilligan.

“He did some good for that college,” Mr. Nelson said. During his stint on the board, Mr. Current headed the building committee when $100 million worth of buildings were added to the campus.

Mr. Nelson recalled that Mr. Current helped O-I in the early days of glass recycling. “He helped start recycling in Toledo,” Mr. Nelson remarked. “He said, `Whatever you guys do, count us in.' He was right up front with the money.”

Mr. Current had a 51-year career in the newspaper industry, the last 19 of which were spent at The Blade and sister companies in what is now Block Communications, Inc.

“His experience in all aspects of publishing made him a valuable addition to Blade management,” said William Block, Sr., chairman of Block Communications.

“What I remember most was his strong bond with his wife, Clarice, and his pride in his son Mike's football prowess.”

The late Mrs. Current was president of the Ohio State Mothers' Association in the late 1960s. Their daughter, Carol, now a retired Lucas County administrative secretary, is an OSU graduate.

Mr. Current, who was a varsity football player at Lima Central High School, saw his son become a standout player for Lima Senior, captain of the Ohio State University football team, and an offensive lineman for 13 years in the National Football League for the Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Miami Dolphins. He is now an author.

Mike Current said his father was able to accomplish a lot in the business world from a relatively meager background.

“He always did things the way he wanted to,” his son said.

Mr. Current was born in Redkey, Ind., the son of a painting contractor. After graduation from high school in Lima, he worked for two years for Lima Locomotive Works, and, in 1932 - in the depths of the Great Depression - he started his newspaper career.

His first newspaper job, paying $5 a week, was as classified-advertising solicitor for the Lima News. In 25 years with the News, he became retail advertising manager and later general manager.

In 1956, Mr. Current was among a number of News executives who objected to the sale of the newspaper to an ultra-conservative publisher, R.C. Hoiles and his Freedom Newspapers, Inc. The next year, Mr. Current left the newspaper to help start a competitor, the Lima Citizen. He sold much of the stock to 900 shareholders and became general manager of the paper.

In its 6 1/2-year existence, the Lima Citizen built up circulation and advertising, but ultimately folded in early 1964 after it had begun losing money. Even after its failure, the newspaper was able to pay back its shareholders.

“It was a great fight while it lasted,” Mr. Current told The Blade at the time of his paper's closing. “I'll miss fighting.” Years later, he told The Blade: “There just wasn't room for two papers in a city that size.”

Shortly after the Citizen closed, Mr. Current came to The Blade as assistant to the publishers in 1964.

He was promoted to general manager in 1966 and became a director in 1967. He became vice president in 1970, and director of development in 1972.

At times, Mr. Current held other titles with other related companies: He was president of then-Buckeye Cablevision and Lima Communications, and was secretary and a director for the Monterey Peninsula Herald in California and the Red Bank Register in New Jersey, newspapers once owned by Block Communications.

He was on a Federal Communications Commission committee on cable-TV regulation and was on an American Newspaper Publishers Association task force on media ownership.

“He lived a long and good life,” said his daughter, Carol. “He just lived to go fishing.” She added that he made a number of trips to a fishing camp his son, Mike, once owned in Saskatchewan. When he retired 18 years ago, he called fishing “my real love - everything from perch on Lake Erie to salmon in Labrador. All anybody has to do is ask about going fishing, and I'm available.”

Surviving are his son, Michael; daughter, Carol; five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Arrangements are being handled by the Coyle Funeral Home. There will be no visitation, and the body will be cremated. The family said a memorial service will be scheduled soon.



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