Harvey Prichard is a familiar face at the STAR. In fact, he is the first face that most visitors see when they come to the STAR as he spends a part of each day working the receptionist desk. He directs visitors to the proper departments and to people they need to see in addition to working the switchboard.
Now, after more than 60 years in the newspaper business — the last 30 of which have been at the Elizabethton STAR — Harvey is retiring. “All I’ve ever done is work, but I plan to spend more time with my wife, Margaret, and do some things I enjoy such as reading. My health is relatively good,” he said. Harvey will retire at the end of this week and begin the new year with a new regiment of activities as a retiree.
Harvey recalls that his first job was as an usher at the old Columbia Theater in Bristol. “When I came to Elizabethton to live, I got a job as an usher at the Bonnie Kate and worked there while I was in high school,” he said. Harvey is a graduate of Elizabethton High School and attended East Tennessee State University (then a teacher’s college) for almost two years.
His first job in the newspaper business was in the advertising department at the Bristol Herald Courier. “After a brief time there I went to work at the Kingsport Times News and worked in advertising there for about ten years,” Harvey recounted. While working at the Kingsport paper Harvey met his wife, Margaret, who was working at Montgomery Ward. They have been married for 57 years.
The career newspaperman then worked at the Sullivan County News, a weekly, for about two years, and then went back to the Bristol paper for a brief stint before re-locating in 1967 to Texas City, Texas, where he served as publisher of the Texas City Sun for 13 years.
At the time the Texas City paper was owned by Worrell Newspapers, a newspaper chain, which also owned the Bristol paper and at one time the Elizabethton STAR. “When I went to Texas, all that I had was an empty building and an inoperable press. The paper had been closed for some time. Worrell purchased the Texas City Sun from the Houston Post. They bought a new press and restarted the Texas City paper. We went through some difficult times, but after about 6 to 8 months we began picking up subscribers and turning a profit. It proved to be a good move for both Worrell and me,” Harvey said.
When Worrell sold the Texas City newspaper, Harvey decided it was a good time to come back to East Tennessee. “Margaret’s family lived here and the opportunity presented itself, so we came back and I went to work at the STAR,” he said. During his time at the STAR he has worked in the advertising department and served as Associate Publisher to his mentor — Frank Robinson, previous owner and publisher of the STAR.
“Frank helped me get my first job in the newspaper business and has been my mentor all through my newspaper career. I sure do miss him,” he lamented.
During his 60 plus years in the newspaper business, Harvey has seen a lot of changes — from the old hot-type presses to cold-type, and now the newspaper is completely computerized. “It really has changed a lot in the past 10 to 15 years. When I was at the Sullivan County News, we had a four-page flatbed press, which was hand fed. The newspaper business has come a long ways since those days,” he reminisced.
What has he liked best about the newspaper business? “No two days are the same. Every day is different. The news is different every day. The headlines are different. It’s an interesting business, and it’s been good to me. I can’t think of any other business that I’d rather be in,” Harvey said. “I’ve met some interesting people, made some wonderful friends, had some great experiences.”
When he locked the front door at the end of the day Friday, it was the end of an era for Harvey Prichard, who will soon turn 82. “I never thought I’d live this long let alone work at this age,” said Harvey, who begins his day by working out in his basement and riding his exercise bike.
Harvey and Margaret have a son, Harv II, and a grandson, Brandon.