Henry Bird, veteran CNHI executive, to retire in March

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Henry Bird, regional executive for Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc., will retire March 31, capping a half-century newspaper career that started with his serving tea to editors in his native Ireland.

"It has been a great, long ride," said Bird. "Tackling the challenges and making the best of the opportunities in a constantly changing industry has been exciting and energizing. Now it is time to do those things I never had time to do before."

Bird was only 16 when he went to work for the Irish Times in Dublin as a newsroom copyboy over the summer of 1965, with the responsibility to deliver tea to the paper's copyeditors and run copy to and from the production shop.

"I was in boarding school at the time," recalled Bird. "It gave me an appreciation for the precision and hard work involved in putting out a newspaper."

Bird immigrated to the United States in 1968 to live with his aunt and attend the University of Montana in Missoula, graduating in 1972. He also worked at the Missoulian, the college town's daily newspaper owned by Lee Enterprises, a company he later went on to work for in Wisconsin.

His career journey also included executive stints with the Hearst and Thomson Newspapers in the Midwest and New York; Central Newspapers as publisher of the Muncie (Ind.) Star Press and group publisher of Central's other Indiana community papers, and Pulitzer Newspapers as publisher of the Bloomington (Ill.) Pantagraph and company vice president responsible for Pulitzer papers in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Bird joined CNHI in 2005 as vice president and then senior vice president overseeing the company's papers in the Midwest and Northeast. He also served as publisher of the Anderson (Ind.) Herald Bulletin from 2009 to 2015, when he moved to Knoxville, Tenn., as a regional executive responsible for CNHI papers in Tennessee, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and north Georgia.

Bird has been active in several industry organizations over the years, serving on the boards of directors of the Inland Press Association, Local Media Association, Wisconsin Press Association and as president of the Hoosier State Press Association and also its foundation. He was honored with the organization's Distinguished Service Award in 2012. He's also received awards for his industry and community leadership from Ball State University and Anderson University.

"We are in Henry's debt for his leadership and his contribution to CNHI and to the industry," said Steve McPhaul, CNHI's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "He has helped guide both to success with his professionalism, foresight and motivational skills."

Bird began his career when the clatter of typewriters filled newsroom and papers were cast in hot lead type. He participated in the change to photosetting of type, the change to desktop computers and the evolution of the internet online era.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in this great industry," said Bird. "I shall miss working with so many outstanding individuals in CNHI and the other companies I've worked for over the years."

Bird and his wife Debbie plan to remain in Knoxville, but increase their love of world travel. They have adult sons in Lagos, Nigeria, and Milwaukee, and a daughter in Chicago. Bird said he also plans to get involved in social services in the Knoxville area.

Bird, CNHI, McPhaul

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