Former Chattanooga Times publisherRuth Holmberg, who was also an arts, education and civil rights pioneer, died Wednesday. She was 96.

Holmberg was the granddaughter ofAdolph Ochs, who bought the Chattanooga Times in the late 1870s.

Ochsturned the local paper around before borrowing about $75,000 to get controlling ownership of The New York Times, which he transformed into a product that set the bar for journalism standards.


Holmberg got into the family business as a teenager. She was a researcher for the editorial department and then a cub reporter at The New York Times.

She went to Smith College and spent two years with the American Red Cross.

Her father wanted her to be in the service, so after a period of training, she was on a five-day boat ride to London, which she said was getting bombed regularly during World War II.

Because she spoke French, she was chosen to work as an interpreter.

She met an officer named Ben Golden, whom she would eventually marry.

When the couple came back to the United States, they made their way south because Golden was from Knoxville. He was going to resume his job at TVA.

But theChattanooga Times was a family-owned newspaper, and there were no family members there. So she and her husband came to the Chattanooga Times.

Golden managed the paper while Holmberg mothered and later worked as a movie, play and arts critic for the Chattanooga Times.

After the marriage started to dissolve, she continued to lead the paper.

She went on to contribute to Chattanooga in countless ways. She supported civil rights when it was unpopular; she led the effort to bring trees downtown.

ArtsBuild has an award named after her.

The Ruth Holmberg Arts Leadership Award “recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the arts in Chattanooga and who is actively engaged in the cultural life of our community.”

Click here to read a 2014 profile from aboutHolmberg.