Roy Bain, North Suncoast publisher for the St. Petersburg Times, will retire in the spring after nearly two decades with the newspaper.
Bain, a prominent figure in Pasco County's business community who helped launch the United Way of Pasco County and the Pasco County Committee of 100, said he would retire in late April.
"My wife and I have been anticipating and planning this for years," Bain said. "It is, of course, an emotional decision because it's both a time of new excitement and a time of laying aside the work I've done here for so long."
Bain, 61, said he and his wife, Billie, plan to move to the Tuscaloosa, Ala., area, where they own a home and have many friends and relatives.
"I know you will join me in wishing him happiness," said Times Publisher and Executive Vice President Judith Roales. "Roy has served the Times well for many years, and we will miss his knowledge and insights.
"Through his many civic activities, ranging from the United Way to the community colleges, he made sure the Times played an important role in the development of this rapidly growing area."
A replacement for Bain has not been announced.
Business and civic leaders were saddened to learn of Bain's retirement plans.
"He's going to leave a gaping hole in this community that's going to have to be filled," said Dr. Robert Judson, president of Pasco-Hernando Community College.
"I'm very sorry to see him leave the community," said Jim Snyder, executive director of the United Way of Pasco. "On my list of leaders in the community, he's been up near the top on almost every issue."
A native of Guntersville, Ala., Bain began his career as a reporter at the Commercial Dispatch in Columbus, Miss.
Bain, who majored in journalism at Auburn University, worked as reporter, columnist, editor and business manager for newspapers in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. He moved to Tampa in 1973 to become editor of The South Magazine, a sister publication of Florida Trend, which was later bought by Times Publishing Co.
In 1979, Bain was named publisher for the St. Petersburg Times daily editions in Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.
His first major task was to oversee construction of the Times office on U.S. 19 in Port Richey.
"Our staff was in a couple of motel rooms in New Port Richey," Bain said.
The new office, which opened in 1981, also housed an entire press production operation, which later moved to St. Petersburg.
In 1984, the Times split its Citrus-Hernando edition. "That was a shot in the arm for us, not only in serving our readers, but in serving our advertisers," Bain said.
More localized news and advertising, with rapid growth along the North Suncoast, brought substantial gains in revenues and circulation. Between 1979 and 1996, the newspaper's circulation rose from 26,095 to 51,387 in Pasco; from 2,915 to 23,414 in Hernando; and from 2,918 to 11,233 in Citrus, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation.
"One of the things that I'm most pleased about is seeing the development of local talent," Bain said. "Ron Horton was an ad salesman on our staff in the early 1980s. He moved through the management ranks and is now advertising manager for all of the North Suncoast."
Beyond his business and administrative duties at the Times, Bain has been active in community and civic groups.
He served two years as chairman of the Pasco-Hernando Community College Foundation board, starting the foundation's Lifetime Fellows Program and an annual fund-raiser in Gulf View Square Mall. The foundation raises money to pay for scholarships and other needs of the college.
"He was one of our most dedicated members of that board," said Milton O. Jones, president emeritus of PHCC. "He spent many hours working with faculties and students developing that foundation."
Bain has done similar work for Central Florida Community College's Citrus campus.
In the early 1990s, he helped found the Pasco County Public Schools Foundation, which raises money for school needs, including student scholarships and class projects.
Bain's skill was in recruiting board members who would turn the foundation into a "formidable entity," said longtime friend Allen Crumbley, a broker with Prudential Tropical Realty. "He's a dear friend, and we'll miss him," he said.
Bain was founding chairman of the Tri-County Economic Development Council, a now-defunct lobbying group for the North Suncoast, and was among those who organized the Pasco County Committee of 100. The county's non-profit economic development organization was formed in 1986.
"He really worked hard to try to tie the east and west side of the county together because there used to be a real split," said Bob Creson, retired district manager for Florida Power Corp. "Roy was recognized as a leader. He inspired me and others."
More recently, Bain organized a panel of business, civic leaders and educators to discuss issues of diversity, and he served on a committee to study bringing a University of South Florida campus to northwest Pasco.
The Bains, who live in Hudson, have six children and three grandchildren. They will move to Tuscaloosa next year. Bain said he has no specific retirement plans, other than to play golf, learn fly-fishing and take university courses.
"I've got hundreds of friends here," Bain said. "There's certainly a degree of sadness that I'm going to be separated from them and moving away, but I don't want to lose contact."