Derek Dunn-Rankin, founder of Sun Coast Media Group, dies at 88
Derek Dunn-Rankin, founder and chairman of the Sun Coast Media Group, which publishes the Sun newspapers, died this past weekend at his home in Venice (one day before his newspaper won its first Pulitzer). He was 88.
Derek Dunn-Rankin was a former SNPA director and trustee, the recipient of the Mayborn Leadership Award, and the father of current SNPA President David Dunn-Rankin.
Dunn-Rankin's career in newspapers began at age 11, when he became a delivery boy for the Miami News. He later became editor of the student paper at Rollins College and, in his senior year, was sports editor of the Sanford Daily Herald.
After graduating from Rollins, Dunn-Rankin returned to the Miami News and became its circulation manager. Moving on, he made his way up to president of The Virginian-Pilot and Ledger Star newspapers in Norfolk, Va.
In 1977, he purchased the Venice Gondolier, a weekly newspaper. Within three years, the Gondolier was winning awards at the state level.
Dunn-Rankin bought the Charlotte Sun in 1979. At the time, the paper was a 16-page, free tabloid with four employees that operated next to a laundromat. The Sun went daily in 1987.
The company Dunn-Rankin founded has grown to more than 350 employees, and now includes the daily Sun papers in Charlotte, Englewood and North Port, as well as publications in Venice and DeSoto, Highlands and Polk counties, along with printing facilities in Charlotte and Sarasota.
A longtime Rotarian, Dunn-Rankin's community involvement encompassed many organizations, including Kiwanis, the Shriners and Jaycees. In 1995, the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce named him the "Pacesetter of the Year." The Cultural Center honored him as "Citizen of the Year" in 2003. This year, his son David Dunn-Rankin received the same award.
In nominating Derek Dunn-Rankin for an award in 2005, Greeneville (Tenn.) Sun co-publisher Gregg Jones praised his reaction to Hurricane Charley in 2004, citing the Sun as a unifying force in the community following the storm's devastation. Dunn-Rankin's telephone company set up emergency call centers for people to contact loved ones and seek help from FEMA.
"It was Derek's carriers that traveled at night to streets stripped of lights and landmarks, amid downed trees and power lines, to reach out to their customers with the latest news," Jones wrote.
"Derek has always treated his employees and his community as family – with affection and respect – and his organization has prospered because of it."
Dunn-Rankin is survived by sons Peter, David, Jeff and Mike, and a daughter, Debbie, and his wife, Betty.