With ink running through his veins, Jim Flood Sr. started his newspaper career in high school, continued it in the Army and later built the Dover Post Company, publishing papers throughout Delaware and printing papers for companies in multiple states.
He was known for his diligent work, his encouragement to others and always including a joke at the end of his popular Dover Post weekly column, “From a Window Overlooking the St. Jones.”
Flood died May 13 after a long illness at his home in Sherwood, Maryland. He was 95.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at noon June 12 at Holy Cross Church, 631 S. State St., Dover.
“In 1975, my father started a newspaper that over 33 years blossomed into a 12-newspaper group with 150,000 total weekly circulation, a 24-hour-a-day printing plant and roughly 200 employees,” said Jim Flood Jr., former president of the Dover Post Company. “Hard work and long hours were always his trademarks. That, and his concern for the employees, who he always thought of as his extended family.”
One of the members of that extended family was Jeff Brown, former reporter and news editor who worked at the Dover Post for more than 16 years.
“People really cared for each other and supported each other,” Brown said, because of the example Flood demonstrated.
For the company’s annual Christmas party, Flood spent hours creating a humorous poem he recited, “’Twas the Night Before Deadline,” that included the names of every employee.
Brown said the publisher was the perfect example of American entrepreneurship, working hard for what he wanted and building a fledgling business into “a resounding success.”
While Flood had to pay close attention to the business side of the company, “you could tell his first love was the news,” said Brown. “He was a familiar sight around the office and often stopped in the newsroom to ask about stories and to offer some advice.”
Flood shared stories about the company’s early struggles, like when Brown mentioned that he would like to go back in time so he could have started his career with the Dover Post years earlier.
Flood told him, “I would have hired you, but I wouldn’t have been able to pay you.”
He made the world “a much better place,” Brown said.
Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen called Flood one of the “unsung heroes” of the city, full of energy, diligently serving his community.
“He championed the building of the new Dover Public Library…not only being a cheerleader for the project but actually raising funds in the community and donating his own funds,” said Christiansen. “He will be sorely missed by me personally but also by the entire city.”
Margie Cyr, Dover Public Library director from 2008 to 2019, remembers Flood and his family as “ardent library supporters”
“He understood the importance of a library to the health of a community,” said Cyr.
At the start of the campaign to build a new library, Flood became its greatest advocate and was a charter member of the new Dover Library Foundation, Cyr said.
“His sense of humor and wit carried us through some cloudy days,” she said, during the struggle to convince people about the need for a new building and then the fundraising process.
Flood wrote a book about the history of Dover’s library, published it and donated the books to the library.
His work ethic and determination were shaped by his upbringing.
Flood was born March 12, 1928, in Biddeford, Maine and grew up during the Depression. His father died in 1942, and his mother supported four children as a telephone operator.
His newspaper career began in high school, covering sports for the Biddeford Journal for a nickel per column inch. In the Army, he served as editor of the base newspaper at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
While attending Catholic University in Washington, D.C., he met Mary Storch. They married in 1952, when Flood began working for the Baltimore Sun, covering Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Next, he served as editor of the Cecil Whig in Elkton and then took the job as Dover bureau chief for the News Journal papers.
In 1963 he accepted the job of chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Caleb Boggs of Delaware, working in Washington, D.C.
After that, he took part ownership in the Delaware Coast Press in Rehoboth Beach in 1969, also serving as publisher and editor, as the company added a web press and newspapers in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.
At age 47, with support from his family, several business owners and investors, he came back to Dover to start the weekly Dover Post newspaper.
In a story Flood wrote in 2015 for the Post’s 40th anniversary, he detailed the humble start: “I organized a staff of 11 people to handle news coverage, production, advertising sales and office duties. To begin with we were tucked into two rooms in Treadway Towers. The cost of the two rooms became a little too much to handle and it wasn’t long before the whole staff was crammed into one room.”
Struggling and almost going bankrupt, Flood persevered with the staff and the help of his wife and seven children who all worked in the company for various periods.
To celebrate the paper’s first anniversary, Flood decided to deliver copies for free to the entire city. After the response from readers and advertisers, he continued the practice of free distribution, generating higher advertising sales.
As the company prospered, the Floods moved from leased space to buying a former airplane hangar on Route 13 at Division Street to house offices and their own press. Years later, the company expanded again, moving the press and printing operation to South Little Creek Road. The former Dover Post site on Route 13 is now a CVS pharmacy.
In 2008, the Floods sold the Dover Post Company to GateHouse Media, and in 2019, GateHouse merged with Gannett, the parent company of The News Journal and delawareonline.
Flood was inducted into the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association Hall of Fame in 2009.
His wife Mary died in 2012 after nearly 60 years of marriage.
Flood later married Kathleen Casey who also had a career in the newspaper business, working for daily publications in New Jersey.
He is also survived by his children, Mary, Jim Jr., David, Don, Ruth, John and Paul and their families, along with his brother David and sister Florrie. His younger sister Ruth passed away.
Reporter Ben Mace worked for the Dover Post Company and fondly remembers Jim Flood Sr. and the guidance and opportunities he provided. Reach Mace at firstname.lastname@example.org.