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In none of the walks of life, perhaps, does the personality of the man impress itself so thoroughly upon the public with which he deals as in the case of the editor of a country newspaper. While he does not reach the thousands that the editor of a metropolitan daily does, he offsets this disadvantage through the close personal relations he sustains with his patrons and thereby his position in the community is rendered the more difficult of the two to maintain. While the head of the news gathering department of a big paper may strike right and left with but small chance of offending any considerable portion of his clientele, the scribe of the country weekly must exercise care and tact, for his financial success requires the support of at least half of the people of his territory. Therefore the trenchant pen is not his to wield. He must attain his ends by other means.
A successful country editor is Guy V. Pettit of the Reynolds Press-a man who has the rare gift of being able to give expression to his own ideas of right and wrong and still retain the personal friendship of practically every individual who reads his newspaper.
Mr. Pettit was born July 17, 1868, seven miles south of Geneseo, on a farm in Henry County, Illinois. He is a son of Charles E. and Ellen M. Pettit, and dates his ancestry on American soil well back into the seventeenth century. His paternal grandparents were Pennsylvanians and his maternal grand-parents New Yorkers. His father was a private in Company E, Eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and was private secretary to General U. S. Grant at Cairo in 1862. His mother was educated at Lombard University, Galesburg.
Mr. Pettit attended country school till fifteen years of age, when he became a student at Northwestern Normal at Geneseo. After pursuing a scientific and literary course there for three years he turned his attention to pedagogy. He began teaching school at the age of seventeen, and so well did he do his work that when he had barely attained his majority he was called upon to act as principal of the schools at Hampton, Rock Island County. Here he taught two years, going, in August, 1889, to Reynolds, to accept the principalship of the schools there. At the end of three years he accepted a similar position at Brimfield, Peoria County, where he remained two years.
In January, 1897, Mr. Pettit purchased the Reynolds Press, taking personal charge July 1 following, and conducting it successfully up to the present time.
Mr. Pettit has found time to take an interest in village affairs, having for three years filled the office of village clerk, and subsequently served two terms as president of the board of trustees, retiring in 1895. Politically he has always been a Republican.
Patriotic and fraternal societies have engaged much of Mr. Pettit’s attention. He is a past captain in the Sons of Veterans, past chancellor commander of the Knights of Pythias, has been consul of the Reynolds Camp of the Modern Woodmen of America for eight years, holds membership in the Order of the Eastern Star and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and is affiliated with the various branches of the Masonic order.
Mr. Pettit was united in marriage June 19, 1890, with Miss Jennie Repine, of Galesburg, Illinois, formerly of Pennsylvania. They have two sons, Royce Edgar, born May 5, 1895, and Clyde Earl, born April 19, 1902.