Thomas “Gene” Worrell Dies

I must emerge from my influenza-haze long enough to acknowledge the Thursday death of Gene Worrell, which I learned of this morning. I worked for his grandson, Zack, in the late 90s, and I’ve long admired the musical and filmmaking talents of his granddaughter, Shannon. It’s through them that I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Worrell on several occasions. He was the very model of the American dream—he was self-made man, amassing a $170M fortune through his business enterprises. At one point he owned dozens of newspapers, radio, and TV stations across the state; his son sold the Daily Progress to Media General in 1995, 25 years after his father bought it from its founding family. Mr. Worrell was also well-known for his charity, giving enormous sums of money to causes large and small throughout his life. The phrase “pillar of the community” doesn’t quite do him justice. I can attest that he was a kind man and a gentle soul.

He was 86 years old.

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