Arthur R. Treanor, who rose from a cub reporter to national fame as one of 20th century journalism’s most respected figures, was born in Saginaw and was everlastingly proud of it. All his adult life, he was prominent in work for the betterment of Saginaw, assignments he accepted despite demands of his work in the newspaper industry and in other business interests.
He was born in 1883 and was graduated in 1899 from Saginaw High School. He was a good student and popular with classmates. He remained a friend and benefactor of Saginaw High School all his life.
He began his newspaper career as a reporter on the Saginaw News in 1901. One of his first jobs was to meet incoming passenger trains at the once busy railroad depots here. Young Art Treanor was there to see what important personage of the day—actor, industrialist, opera star, sports hero or politician—was aboard to visit Saginaw. From them, he got many an exclusive interview and his reportorial star rose and brightened. One of the things he learned early in his career was the value of names in a newspaper. He always came back to the office with a hatful of them to go with the stories he’d gleaned. He also was a devotee of accuracy. Names he used were spelled correctly. He took great pains to know the facts when he wrote a story. These traits carried over to his days as an editor and executive. He demanded the use in his newspapers of as many names as possible. He insisted on accuracy and shunned sensational “yellow journalism” as a malevolent serpent he was unwilling to bring into the family home, no matter the circulation increases it might bring.
In 1910, he shifted to the former Saginaw Courier-Herald as manager. He thus associated with its owner-editor, Walter J. Hunsaker, known for his editorials which could steam and fulminate when he was angered at the high-jinks of politicians.
He left the Courier-Herald in 1913 to return to the Saginaw News as editor and manager. In 1927 his ability was acknowledged again when he became Booth Newspapers’ regional director for the Saginaw News, Flint Journal and Bay City Times. Saginaw was his headquarters and he preferred it that way. In 1935, he was promoted to become vice-president and editorial counsel for Booth Newspapers until he retired in 1946. Treanor was a rare combination of editorial and business generalship, with precise balance in both.
In 1943-44, he served the nation during the trying days of wartime material shortages as a “dollar a year man,” directing the printing and publishing division of the War Production Board. His main duties were to handle rationing of newsprint. His work was lauded by both government and newspaper officials.
After he left newspapering, he became interested in radio stations. At various times he owned radio stations in Flint, Grand Rapids and other cities in Michigan and Indiana. He was president and director of Wilson Cypress Company, Palatka, Florida, many years and a long-time director of Saginaw’s Bancroft Hotel Company, during its period of ownership by Saginaw interests. To his friends and many newspaper associates throughout the nation he was “Art” Treanor. But it was indicative of the respect in which he was held by former associates of the Saginaw News that he invariably was addressed as “Mr.” Treanor, for all the warmth of his personality and sincerity of his handshake at the sight of any of them.
Treanor was prematurely white-haired, accenting his light blue eyes. Most of the time these twinkled, but they could go artic when he was angered. Not six feet tall, he looked taller because of his erectness. He had a patrician look about him. A friend of his once chuckled: “Art Treanor is the only man I know who could look dignified wearing a nightgown.”
Treanor was an honorary doctor of letters at Alma College and an honorary University of Michigan alumnus. For years he advised Saginaw High School journalism students and instructors in the direction of their publications. He never lost his regard for SHS and the teachers and classmates of his youth. Treanor left a trust that the outstanding senior journalist each year at SHS and Arthur Hill High School would receive a fine watch.
He helped found the former Saginaw Welfare League, predecessor of the Community Chest. For years he was a Community Chest director. He also served as a YMCA director. For 10 years he was a trustee of the former Saginaw County Tuberculosis Hospital. Always interested in the cultural worth of his community, Treanor was first president of the Saginaw Museum and served three years on its board of directors. It was through his guidance and effort that the museum was established in Saginaw. Many of Treanor’s benefactions went unmentioned at his insistence. He had often befriended St. Vincent’s Orphans’ Home and was a tireless worker for St. Mary’s Hospital.
He married Margaret Corcoran in 1927. They worked as a team on the many community service programs in which they were interested. They had one daughter, Mary Margaret.
Friends doubted anything Treanor ever did for his home town of Saginaw gave him more satisfaction than when he successfully directed a $1.5 million public subscription campaign for a $3.5 million St. Mary’s Hospital building expansion. Through his organizational ability and persuasion, the campaign attracted donations from men and women in all walks of life and all religious creeds.
Treanor was a member of the Associated Press Central Advisory Committee for five years and served as its president. He was a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. In 1927, he was a member of a group of newspaper editors who went to Europe under auspices of the Carnegie Foundation to view postwar reconstruction.
He died in Saginaw in 1956 at the age of 73.
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