Harrison Chandler, who transformed Times Mirror Press from a small printing job shop into one of the largest telephone directory publishers in the Western United States, died Saturday. He was 82.
At the time Chandler joined the Times Mirror Printing and Binding House in 1931, its telephone directory printing was still secondary to its commercial printing work. Under his leadership, as vice president and general manager from 1938 to 1960 and as president from 1960 to 1968, directory printing became its mainstay.
Besides publishing directories for California, Nevada and Hawaii, Times Mirror Press, as Chandler renamed it in 1946, has published phone books for Pacific Northwest Telephone in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. It also serviced Mountain Bell Telephone Co., with subscribers as far east as Denver.
The company began in 1873 as a printing job shop and book bindery that coincidentally published a 10-by-13-inch weekly newspaper, The Weekly Mirror. It called itself the smallest newspaper in the West.
By 1881, the company had taken in a partner (Gen. Harrison Gray Otis, first publisher of The Los Angeles Times) and published the first edition of The Los Angeles Daily Times, forerunner of The Times.
In those days, the fledgling newspaper was dependent on revenues from the “Job Office,” as it was then known, for survival.
A year later, the small print shop published Los Angeles’ first telephone directory, a four-page book listing 91 subscribers, for the newly born Pacific Telephone Co.
Chandler was born Feb. 12, 1903, in Los Angeles, the second son of Harry Chandler, who succeeded Gen. Otis as publisher of The Times, and Marian Otis Chandler. His older brother was the late Norman Chandler, third publisher of The Times.
Concentrates on Shop
After graduating from Stanford University in 1926, Chandler, like his brother, trained at The Times. But with his older brother in line as future publisher of the paper, Harrison Chandler was encouraged to concentrate on the printing shop, then adjacent to The Times building on Broadway.
Under Harrison Chandler’s leadership, Times Mirror Press expanded its Broadway operations in 1949 to a 13-acre site on Boyle Avenue, which it still occupies.
By 1954, Chandler had moved Times Mirror Press away from most commercial work and into concentrated production of telephone books. The company, however, continued making catalogues, maps, annual reports, law books, brochures and magazines as it does to this day.
During the 1960s, Times Mirror Press began installing sophisticated printing equipment and fledgling computers to speed mass production of directories. Just before his retirement from the business in 1968, Chandler announced to the Employees’ Committee that production of an alphabetical page of a telephone directory, a job that once took six to eight man hours, could now be completed in less than a minute by a computer.
Chandler had “a complete faith in Times Mirror Press that rubbed off on our customers,” said Sam George, a longtime co-worker who in 1968 succeeded Chandler as president of the firm. “They were damned near ashamed not to do business with us,” added George, who died in September, 1981.
Chandler interrupted his work at the printing company during World War II, and served as a lieutenant commander in the Navy. At one point during the conflict, he commanded a Navy armed guard detachment on a Merchant Marine tanker in the Pacific. Later, he worked in Washington in the Navy’s public relations office, where he made training films.
When he returned from the war, he supplemented his management of Times Mirror Press with a broad range of civic work.
He was a director of the Los Angeles YMCA, and was active in the Community Chest and youth-oriented service groups. He acted as adviser to the Salvation Army, the Goodwill and the YMCA.
He also served on the national board of directors of the Printing Industry of America Inc., a trade association of the commercial printing industry.
Chandler also had a special commitment to education, serving as a trustee of Colby College in Waterville, Me. He started the Times Mirror Press Scholarship, a college grant for outstanding high school students interested in printing management.
His name was also of importance in political affairs. In the 1964 presidential campaign, he was one of more than 450 people named to the national Businessmen for Goldwater organization.
Chandler married late in life to Martha Marsh in 1957. The following year, he oversaw a $3-million expansion of the Times Mirror Press plant on Boyle Avenue.
In 1968, he left the printing company and began a term as president and chairman of the board of Chandis Securities Co., the Chandler family privately held company. Appointed to the Times Mirror Co. board of directors in 1952, he served until 1976 and was director emeritus at the time of his death.
During the later years of his semi-retirement, Chandler practiced his two favorite avocations: gardening and photography.
As trustee of the Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii, Chandler tested native Hawaiian plants in his garden.
“He had an incredibly lovely garden--more than four acres of land--on his family estate in Arcadia, and he was very happy puttering around in it,” George said.
Chandler’s secretary, Audrey Frasier, described him as “a marvelous amateur photographer.”
He was a member of the Sunset Club, the California Club and Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
And he was a dog lover who owned a champion blood hound named Ernie and a basset hound.
Chandler is survived by his wife, Martha; a daughter, Judy; three grandchildren, Scott, Eliza, and John; and a sister, Ruth Chandler Von Platen.
Memorial services will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, May 6, at the Church of Our Savior in San Gabriel. In lieu of flowers the family has suggested gifts to the Salvation Army, the YMCA or the Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden.