Congratulations to Mr. Stevens on his 100th birthday!

Special to Dorchester Banner/Sylvia B. Windsor
Herman Stevens, front and center, is surrounded by his son and daughter-in-law, Ray and Bonnie Stevens. Mr. Stevens will celebrate his 100th birthday on May 30 at his home in Cambridge.

CAMBRIDGE — This coming Saturday, Herman Jackson Stevens will turn 100 years old. Well known in this area as a civic and community leader he was also the owner of The Daily Banner. On Saturday friends and family are invited to drive by his home at 21 Algonquin Road to wave, shout or blow their horn to honor a man who has given much to the local community during his 100 years. The family will have him out front from 1 to 3 p.m.

It all started on May 30, 1920 when Mr. Stevens was born, son of Herman Ray and Edna Jackson Stevens and younger brother of Donald. Raised in the Mount Holly area he attended the local schools and rode the bus to school on the same one my mother who lived in Linkwood rode. She referred to him as “one of the older boys.” Little did anyone know then that this “older boy” would grow up to be a newspaperman and a respected and successful businessman in Cambridge.

Herman graduated from Cambridge High School (there were only 11 grades at that time). While attending a ball game at The Phillips Packing Company stadium (about where the Western Publishing building stands) he saw one of the players with brown hair and a beautiful face. His heart skipped a beat and he knew he had to meet her. Through a mutual friend a meeting was arranged and the rest is history. He married Nettie Belle James on August 2, 1941. The love of his life, they were married almost 77 years when she passed away on July 19, 2018.
In 1942 they became parents of a son, Ray and followed that two years later with the birth of a daughter, Kaye. Mr. Stevens couldn’t be prouder of his children and rightly so.

During World War II he served a tour of duty with the U.S. Coast Guard and on returning home took a job driving an oil truck for Hop Malone, that was located on the corner of Aireys Road and Route 50 (now Cindy’s Kitchen). Although that was not his life’s ambition, he had a family to feed.
After a while an opportunity arose for him to manage both the Arcade and State Theaters on Race Street. Did he know how to manage a movie theater, no but he would learn.
New career
On a trip to carry advertising for the theaters to the local newspaper, The Daily Banner, he met and impressed the relatively new owner, Arnold Daane. He impressed him so that Mr. Daane offered him the job of general manager. Did he know anything about newspapers –not really but he was a quick study.

Looking the picture of a successful businessman in his suit, he was not a slacks and sport coat kind of guy, with his wingtips and his signature blue oxford weave button-down shirt, Mr. Stevens took his spot in the front glass-enclosed office. Sharing the office with him was the very attractive and “never a hair out of place” Pauline “Polly” Foxwell Robbins who was in charge of the paper’s distribution. Together they made a pleasant sight for anyone entering the Banner office.
Getting printer’s ink in his blood was not hard as he was trained by some of the best including Maurice Rimpo, editor; Elsie McNamara, managing editor and Leila B. Smith, social editor. It wasn’t long before he had the hang of things and the paper began to show progress. When he joined the newspaper it published 8 to 10 pages a day, 6 days a week and was delivered to each home by 5 p.m.
After a few years, Mr. Daane passed away and in his will he left half of the newspaper to his widow, Fannie Greene Daane and the other half to be sold. This was Herman’s chance to be a real newspaperman as he bought the other half. Mrs. Daane wasn’t involved in the day-to-day operation and Herman ran the newspaper. Around 1970 he decided to take the newspaper into the 20th Century changing from the “hot metal” system to offset printing.

A big change
This was a big change, but no one would lose their jobs, they would be retrained to do something else. A Goss Community Press was purchased that allowed the Banner to print up to 20 pages in one run. The press was 5 units with 4 pages on each unit. Jobs were added to make this process work, as well as reporters to help increase the volume of news.
As if this was not enough to keep him busy, the Cambridge area needed industry and jobs for people, so Herman and three of his friends took on the task. With the blessing of the city fathers, but not their money, the four financed their trips to seek companies to locate in Cambridge. The Four Horsemen as they were named included Herman, Don Holdt, founder of Airpax and later Cambridge Scientific; Bob Davis, owner of Stevens & Smith Clothiers and big game hunter Phil Williamson, owner of the Point Restaurant and Williamson Real Estate.

Through their efforts the industrial park on Woods Road became a reality with Western Publishing, American Yearbook, Icelandic, Connelly Containers, Chris Craft Boat Builders, Lif-o-Gen and Bumble Bee Tuna. Bumble Bee needed more so Herman founded Cargo Handlers and a building was erected by the deep water port (now Governors Hall). To manage the operation he hired Jim Mills who was like a brother. Jim managed Cargo Handlers which unloaded the frozen tuna when the boats came in, stored the fish in the building until being transported to the Bumble Bee Factory which occupied the old Phillips Packing Co. Frozen Food Building on Washington Street. It was a profitable operation for all concerned.
Everything went well until Mrs. Daane and Mr. Stevens decided to sell The Banner. It was purchased by the Evening Post Publishing Company of South Carolina. Nothing much changed as Herman continued to run the operation, that is until the Evening Post decided it was time to sell the Banner. In 1983, they sent Travis Rocky to Cambridge to make the paper look good and that is when Herman decided to leave. He was followed by Claude Gootee, advertising manager and Maurice Rimpo. Travis was not Mr. Stevens, as we all found out. Most of the employees continued to work there because they needed a job. Finally the Banner was bought by Independent Newspapers which still owns it to this day.
Community involvement
During his association with The Banner Mr. Stevens was heavily involved in the Chamber of Commerce and sat on the boards of the Salvation Army and Nathan Foundation in addition to serving on committees at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.

Once a newspaperman always a newspaperman, so after leaving the Banner, Herman and Don Holdt started a newspaper in the Stevensville area which was growing rapidly. After a few years it folded. Still not ready to retire Herman entered the real estate game as an agent.

If being involved in many projects wasn’t enough Herman wanted to go higher so he took flying lessons and in 1974 obtained his pilot’s license. He purchased a four-seater plane and flew until 2002 at the age of 88 when he finally landed and decided it was time to enjoy retirement and his family.
Herman and Nettie created a legacy of love that included, a son, Ray Stevens and wife Bonnie of Oxford and a daughter Kaye Thomas and husband Jim of Salisbury; five grandchildren Andy Thomas of New Jersey, Betsy Thomas of New York, Tricia Payne of South Carolina, Gay Bray of North Carolina and Ladd Stevens of South Carolina; and so far six great-grandchildren, James, Liam, and Genevieve Payne and Davis, Sophie and Belle Bray.

So Herman enjoy your birthday, as you have enjoyed life, and always remember “You Are Loved!”

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