ST. PETERSBURG — During almost four decades with Times Publishing Co., when Andy Corty was assigned a new challenge, he accepted it willingly and performed it successfully.
That’s the way company chairman and CEO Paul Tash sums up Corty’s tenure.
Corty, vice president, corporate secretary and treasurer of Times Publishing and president of Florida Trend, a statewide business magazine published by the parent company of the Tampa Bay Times, is retiring. His last official day is Jan. 12.
“At age 67, I realize that the time is right," he wrote in his retirement letter, mentioning plans to spend more time with his wife, Betty, their two sons, his mother and mother-in-law.
But he pledged to remain involved in St. Petersburg "as a volunteer, trying to give back.”
Corty arrived at the Times in May 1978. He met Nelson Poynter, legendary and revered owner of the Times, who died the following month. Over the years, his role grew. It included overseeing Times affiliates, the Beacon-Leader-Bee group of weeklies in central Pinellas and a service directory, the Senior Living Guide. Until January 2019, he was both president and publisher of Florida Trend, whose monthly readership, online and in print, consists of more than 250,000 business executives, civic leaders and government officials.
Corty has been “the best publisher of Florida Trend so far,” Tash said.
“Whatever the company asked Andy to do, he would do it willingly and well ... with good cheer and great confidence,” Tash said. “He took on transitional assignments like acting president of the Poynter Institute for several months. Andy’s good work bought us some time to come to an excellent choice. For the last 15 months or so, he has been serving as chief financial officer of the company.”
It’s not always been easy. In 2009, the Times decided to sell the Washington-based Congressional Quarterly, which covered Congress and federal politics.
“For a long time, I was vice chairman of Congressional Quarterly. It was a job that required frequent traveling. The sale of that was very challenging. It was laborious. We hired a New York firm to guide us. It took a full nine months to a year to sell it,” he said of the process that included putting together a prospectus, as well as vetting, culling and meeting possible buyers.
Corty, a Harvard graduate who went on to earn a master’s in business from Stanford University, comes from a family with a journalism pedigree. His grandfather, Ernest S. Pisko, became European news editor of the Christian Science Monitor. His mother, Susanne Corty, was an editorial writer for the News Journal in Wilmington, Del. His father, Claude, was a chemical engineer for DuPont.
Over the years, he and Tash developed a close friendship. They arrived at Times Publishing the same year and were introduced to their wives by then-Times social columnist Mary Evertz. Corty said his wife, the former Betty Wallace — and an excellent tennis player — “threw the first match” they played.
Their older son Robert, 32, will graduate from medical school in May. Edward, 27, also studying to become a physician, will graduate in 2021.
Corty is set to be the next chair of the Salvador Dali Museum’s board of trustees. He is “a trusted and deeply respected leader” of the board, trustee Lorna Taylor said.
“I admire his practical wisdom and passionate dedication to getting things right,” she said in a text. "Andy’s thoughtful and decisive manner leads to the kind of excellence that has been one of his hallmarks at Florida Trend.”
Tash spoke of valuing Corty’s connections in the community. “We are independently and locally owned, so these personal and business connections are like our own roots into the community we serve,” he said.
Corty, whose career included a five-year stint at the Washington Post, said he’ll miss the collegiality at the Times.
“I most liked the culture of the Times, which was a very upstanding, ethical culture. I enjoyed working with Paul Tash and (former Times editor and chairman) Andy Barnes," he said. “The Times has always stood for doing right and doing good and not necessarily making the most money. We’ve always paid our people well, paid our taxes, all those things ethical people do.”
The business has gotten a lot more difficult lately, Corty said, but continues to stand the test of time. Pointing to recent Times coverage of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, Scientology and other investigative projects, he added: “We’re reporting important stories.”