Peyton Anderson, owner and publisher of the Macon Telegraph and News for nearly twenty years, was a prominent business leader in middle Georgia. His most remarkable contributions to his hometown came after his death, however.
Peyton Tooke Anderson Jr. was born on April 9, 1907, in Macon to Nell Brown Griswold and Peyton Anderson. Newspapers were the Anderson family’s business. Anderson’s uncle W. T. Anderson was the editor and publisher of the Macon Telegraph and, later, the Macon News for more than thirty years. His father, P. T. Anderson, was the vice president of the company. His uncle Eugene Anderson wrote a column for the Telegraph. At the age of nine Anderson took his first paying job, sweeping the floors at the offices of the Macon Telegraph.
Upon graduation in 1924 from Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Anderson attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, for two years, but a sports injury forced him to leave school. He returned to Macon and worked in the Telegraph’s advertising department before becoming the circulation manager. In 1930 he married Katherine McClure, and the couple had two daughters, Katherine and Deyerle.
Anderson served in the U.S. Navy during World War II (1941-45) as a public relations officer. He facilitated the activities of the war correspondents and issued press releases for the fleet. He also developed a program in which his staff interviewed servicemen stationed all over the Pacific to record and send their stories to the states for play on the soldiers’ hometown radio stations. Anderson was later awarded a Bronze Star for his service.
After his discharge from the navy in 1945, Anderson worked in Alabama as the publisher of the Gadsden Times until his return to the Macon Telegraph and News in 1947. Four years later he became the sole owner of the papers that his family had long published.
Anderson was known as a newspaperman’s newspaperman. Dedicated to publishing the truth without any consideration for friendship or advertising dollars, he hired the best editors he could find and then let them do their jobs without interference. He was active in local civic and charitable organizations and often quietly helped people with whom he came into contact, paying a medical bill here or a mortgage there.
Anderson, a strong supporter of Macon and middle Georgia, believed in giving back to the community. He often told his children that because his money was made in the community and helped the community to flourish, his money should be reinvested in the community.
In 1969 Anderson sold the Macon Telegraph and News to Knight Newspapers and retired to oversee his investments. Under his careful management the proceeds from the newspaper sale grew substantially.
Anderson’s wife, Katherine, died in 1983. The following year he married Evelyn McArver Matthews. At his death in 1988, the bulk of his fortune, approximately $35 million, was bequeathed to the Peyton Anderson Foundation to be used for the benefit of Macon and middle Georgia.
Anderson died on April 24, 1988, in Macon.