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Sunday, December 30, 2012, 2:00pm

In Memoriam

Timothy Warren Sr., Chairman Of The Warren Group, Dies At 89

Redefined Real Estate Database And Information Co., Setting Industry-Wide Standards


Timothy M. Warren Sr. at his home in Topsham, Maine. Timothy M. Warren Sr., the third leader of a four-generation publishing and information company, turned the final page on his life’s story. He passed away on Dec. 21 at his home in Topsham, Maine, surrounded by his wife and family. He was 89 years old.

The Warren family announced his death on Dec. 26. His passing was painless for him, but has left his survivors with deep sadness, said Timothy M. Warren Jr., CEO of The Warren Group and publisher of Banker & Tradesman. 

“My father was a good family man, a good leader, an inspiration to all of us,” he said. “We couldn’t have loved him more. We couldn’t miss him more.”

In January 2012, the elder Warren was diagnosed with a progressive blood disorder called Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). Despite declining mobility, he enjoyed a good quality of life in his final months, spending Thanksgiving dinner with family, including his great-grandchildren in Camden, Maine. 

Warren was devoted to education, civility, piety and compassion. During his time running the Warren family’s publishing company, he built an enterprise that was dedicated not just to the highest quality of news, but also to the idea that companies thrive when they treat their employees as family members. “Family” was the first and most important of several core values that guide all decisions within the company.

“What struck me the most was the warm and friendly smile he always greeted me with,” said Wayne Gregory, The Warren Group’s long-time classified advertising manager.  “He made you feel like it was a family and not just a business.”

TimSr.3Gen_twgThe values that drove Warren to build a company on a human scale also fed other areas of his life. “He was an excellent writer and thinker, a man of letters,” said Barry Mills, president of Bowdoin College in Maine, as well as a personal friend and  colleague. Warren graduated from Bowdoin after World War II, and sent all his children there for their college education. In his later years, he served as an overseer and volunteer at the college.

“The last time I saw him was a few months ago,” said Mills. “He came to a Bowdoin football game. There he was in his tweeds and plaids, just reveling in being part of this community. He was a profoundly educated man, and the way he lived his life – and the life he created for his family – is a testament to a man who believed in learning. He was an engaged liberal, in the classic sense of what a liberal education means.”

A memorial service in celebration of Warren’s life will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 4, at the First Parish, 20 Lexington Road, Concord.

 

At Home In Maine And Mass.

TimothyWarrenSr-1_twgWarren was a resident of Concord for 57 years, before moving to Topsham, Maine, in 2007 to be close to his beloved alma mater.

He died in his Maine home, surrounded by his loving wife of 66 years, Phyllis Faber Warren, and his children, Elizabeth Faulkner Warren-White, of South Freeport, Maine; and Peter Grenelle Warren, of Camden, Maine.

Warren is also survived by his son, Timothy Matlack Warren Jr. of Cambridge,  six grandchildren, two great grandchildren, his children’s spouses, a brother-in-law, a sister-in-law, nieces, nephews, cousins, three American Field Service “children,” multiple godchildren and countless friends.

Warren was born in New Canaan, Conn., on Dec. 9, 1923, the son of Keith Faulkner Warren and Barbara Matlack Warren.  He was raised in New Canaan and in Lovell, Maine.   

His childhood move to the Pine Tree State was precipitated by the onset of the Great Depression. His father, Keith Warren, decided to economize during that period by moving the Warren company publishing headquarters from New York to Boston, and by moving his family to Lovell, where they had often vacationed at Kezar Lake. Keith Warren worked in Boston during the week, and commuted north to see his family on weekends. The commute was his sacrifice in order to provide a simpler and more wholesome environment for his family during the 1930s.

TimothyWarrenSr-9_twg“I arrived in Maine on the cusp of the Depression,” Timothy Warren Sr. told the Bowdoin College alumni magazine in 2010. “I was 7 years old, and I remember everything about it. I attended a one-room schoolhouse for all of my elementary years, and then Fryeburg Academy, and then I got a scholarship to come to Bowdoin.

“My life in Lovell Village did not have that feeling of a national disaster, because the economy in Maine had never been booming,” he said. “The people in Lovell weren’t feeling the drastic effects of the Depression the way they would in Boston or New York or Chicago.” 

A large part of Warren’s life was service to others. He was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1942 to 1946, serving in the Pacific Theater of Operations in both the Philippines and Japan.  In Concord, he was a 24-year member and chair of the Town Report Committee, trustee and chair of the Concord Free Public Library Corp. and member and chair of the Friends of the Concord Free Public Library, as well as a director of the Friends of the Performing Arts in Concord and a director of the Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts. He and his wife, Phyllis, were named Concord’s Honored Citizens of 1995.

TimothyWarrenSrNEW-19_twgIn granting that distinction on the couple, the awards committee wrote that “Tim and Phyllis have been two of the town’s most active and public-spirited citizens. They have devoted an extraordinary amount of their time and effort to a host of public duties and private charities ... It was generally felt that [they] epitomized the ideal of unassuming, selfless and committed public service. ”

Warren also served as chair of the Standing Committee and in other major lay leadership positions at First Parish in Concord, and sang bass in its choir for 39 years. Moreover, he was a well-loved member of the Social Circle in Concord, an esteemed social organization of distinguished town citizens that dates back to 1794. Warren served on the Board of Overseers at Bowdoin College from 1985 to 1991, and continued in other volunteer roles until his death. In 1992, he was given the college’s Alumni Service Award, the highest honor given by the Alumni Council. 

 

Following A Passion

In his interview with the Bowdoin alumni magazine, Warren left advice for his family and friends.

“Find something that moves you, that really motivates you and makes you happy, then do it with everything you’ve got,” he said. “Do what you’re passionate about; do what you love; don’t do what you’re expected to do because it fits into the norms of society.”

Warren feels so strongly about it in part because he was unable to follow that advice himself. Unsure of what to do after graduating from Bowdoin, he joined his father at Warren Publishing Corp., publisher of Banker & Tradesman, which his grandfather had founded. With his father in poor health, Warren gradually assumed more and more responsibility for the business until he found it impossible to leave. 

“My father counted on me to take over and run the show, so I stayed.” Warren said. “Had that not been the case, I probably would have moved on and done something else. I wanted to teach.” 

TimothyWarrenSr-2_twgWarren never resented his decision, because the life he had working alongside his father was full of camaraderie and love, as it had been between his father and grandfather. But he wanted to make sure that if his children joined the family business, it was a choice they made willingly after first striking out on their own. His son Tim followed that path and now serves as the CEO of the company, the fourth generation at [The Warren Group].

For all his accomplishments, though, Warren was modest and self-effacing. He was honored by the city of Boston as an outstanding senior citizen, and earned several decorations for his service in World War II. Yet in a curriculum vitae he put together, he demurely noted that he “once carried the flag in Monument Square protesting the My Lai massacre, and was ‘decorated’ by several thrown eggs!”

 

Respect And Admiration

Warren – affectionately called for many years by his employees as “Tim Sr.” – often said that one of his greatest pleasures was the camaraderie of the people he worked with. With homespun charm, a tweed-and-cotton wardrobe that seemed to come from central casting for an avuncular leader, and a humanistic interest in helping those around him, he was held in high regard by his employees. 

TimothyWarrenSrNEW-12_twg“What sticks with you is his thoughtfulness and genuine interest,” said Bill Samatis, who spent 25 years at the company in its art and production department. “He was genuinely nurturing and caring. I remember one time I mentioned to him that my middle name is Marc, but spelled with a ‘c’ instead of a ‘k.’ Months later, there was a company dinner of some sort, and he was putting out name cards. Mine was the only one with a middle name – William Marc Samatis. I remember him beaming about it. Because he knew it was important to me, so he was showing me it was important to him. It was such a little thing. But I remember it to this day.”

As a family-owned enterprise, it was important to Warren that the business should reflect the values held personally by the family. “When customers come to do business with us, they appreciate what they are feeling,” he once said. “And that is a sense of values which are constant and which have been passed down through the years.”

Alan Pasnik, who has worked at The Warren Group in various capacities for nearly 30 years, said, “I have never met any individuals like Tim Sr. … who have as much integrity. [He always tries] to do the right thing. And that attitude is transmitted down to all the employees.”

 

Finding A Career

After graduating Bowdoin with a degree in French in 1948, Warren joined the organization founded by his grandfather 76 years earlier. Over the next six decades, he would preside as the company moved from being a publisher devoted to newsprint to one that diversified into electronic data, glossy trade magazines, business conferences and more, even while reinventing and reimagining its flagship newspaper, Banker & Tradesman.

TimothyWarrenSrNEW-16_twgWarren started as a printer’s apprentice, working at the company’s printing operations in Cambridge. But within a short time, he was “moved upstairs,” as he said in a video commemorating The Warren Group’s 135th anniversary, and given a desk next to his father, Keith F. Warren, then president. It was not long afterward that the Warrens found themselves making a decision that would alter the focus of the family firm.

Over the years, and as more family members joined the business, it had become both a general printing company and a large publishing operation. In 1955, after the death of a family member responsible for the printing side of the business, it was decided to divide the firm. The Cross cousins took half of the publications and the Warrens took the other half, including Banker & Tradesman. One Cross cousin, Gorham Cross Jr., took on the printing business.

“We had a meeting of the family, and we decided it would be best to break it up – which was the most wonderful thing to ever happen” to the publishing operation, said Gorham Cross Jr., the cousin who took on the printing business. At that time, the printing division was declining, and hurting the publishing side. The separation “got the company on an even keel. It could have gone out of business, but it didn’t. And Tim Sr. did a wonderful job. He was the right person at the right time to run the company.” 

For the next three decades, Timothy Warren Sr. worked with his father, growing a traditional publishing company, built on the premise of providing information on real estate and banking. In 1975, he succeeded to the title of publisher, although he had been effectively operating as head of the company for years. By the early 1980s, though, he knew more dramatic change was needed.

TimothyWarrenSrNEW-18_twg“Things went along pretty well, and I was quite proud of the fact that I was able to produce … dividends for the stockholders,” said Warren. “But I was beginning to realize that we were going to go nowhere until we got computerized.”

 

Culture Of Care

The advent of computers to the company marked a revolution. It allowed the business to retain and resell all of the real estate and financial data it collected. That set a new direction for the company, even as it continued to grow its traditional publishing products.

Much of that change came about under the leadership of Timothy Warren Jr., who took the chief executive reins in 1998.

“From the perspective of the real estate industry, what Tim Sr. did was amazing,” said Steve Sousa, president of the Massachusetts Board of Real Estate Appraisers and a former Warren Group vice president. “First, he built a company that was outstanding in the quality of its data and information. Then he realized the importance of building computer databases, and knew enough to hand that over to Tim Jr. But if he hadn’t done what he did, I don’t think we’d have the real estate industry we have now. It was the scope and quality of information that he built that gives us the kind of industry we enjoy.”

TimothyWarrenSr_twgUpon passing the company presidency to his son, Tim Sr. assumed chairmanship of the company, and held that position until his death. During that time, he continued to exert the same kind of caring towards employees and colleagues that was his hallmark during his more active years.

When a company is “family-owned, [it] usually means nothing more than being owned by a family,” said Nena Groskind, who led the organization’s editorial operations for many years. “But this was a family for real. Working there, it was like one gigantic hug from Tim, and as the company got larger, he just opened his arms wider.”

Many employees said Warren’s legacy is his genuine concern for, and interest in, the people around him.

“Tim was a New England Yankee through and through,” Groskind recalled. “I don’t think anyone would have accused him of overpaying anyone at the company. But he was unstinting in showering kindness on people.”

His family said that was a trait not reserved for the business. “His youthful years in the Great Depression and watching his father struggle to meet payroll made him fiscally conservative in all aspects of his life,” said Timothy Warren Jr. “He was a generous man, but liked to save his money, anticipating a long life and wanting to remain financially independent.”

TimothyWarren_twgTalking to the Bowdoin Alumni magazine, Warren remarked on the difference between his upbringing and “kids today.” He said: “I had to split 18 cords of wood every fall and never got paid for it. I had to do these things my mother and father needed to have done.”

 

Employee Consideration

As a business, the Warren Group never gave lavish holiday bonuses. But it always hosted a holiday luncheon in December, where Warren would preside, with obvious delight, in extolling appreciation for the staff of the company. Even before employees headed to whatever locale was chosen for the party, they knew they would be in for a fun day.

“When it was Christmas time he would always come around dressed in a Santa suit and hand out the Christmas cards, [each] with a $50 bill,” said Gregory, the classified manager. “It wasn’t the money that was important; it was because it came right from him. And then his speeches at the holiday luncheons came right from the heart and always gave you a very warm, appreciated and close feeling.”

Warren used the holiday company gathering as a time to tell his employees how much they meant to him – and he would regale them with witticisms, and sometimes stories of Maine. But his address to employees was never rehearsed, and was clearly heartfelt.

“He would be up front, with a bow tie and a big smile,” said Groskind. “It was his chance to brag about the people who worked at the company, and he loved it. I think the high point was when he handed out gifts to the people who had been with the company for five, 10, 20, 25  years. I remember being stunned the first time I was there for one of these parties. It just felt so wonderful, and his remarks were never canned.”

Bill Samatis agreed. “Going in there as a 23-year-old kid, and having Tim Sr. make you feel like you’re literally like family to him – that was pretty cool,” he said. “I don’t think I ever walked by him without him smiling at me, and I don’t think that was exclusive to me. He set the standard for the company.”

 

Involved Encouragement 

Although Warren may not have envisioned himself as a publisher, his love of learning and his sharp intellect served him, and his newspapers, well. He read all of the articles, and would frequently send editors notes with comments. The notes would invariably be positive about the quality of the work, but might also contain insightful questions about the subject matter that would lead to other stories being developed.

“He gave people room to grow, but you knew he took an interest,” said Groskind. “There was never the sense that he was waiting for you to make a mistake. The sense was that he was really fascinated by the subjects and the stories.”

Jeffrey Keller, a former advertising manager at the company, concurred. “I thought he was an inspiration, the way he made us all feel like we belonged to a family that was an extension of our own,” he said.

That sense of belonging and caring wasn’t left at the doorsteps of the office. In his final years, he moved to Maine to once more be close to the academic and social life of Bowdoin College. “He’s a legend here,” said Mills, Bowdoin College’s president , who first met Warren when he was in the same class as Warren’s daughter, Elizabeth Faulkner Warren, in 1972. “I got to know him then, and even then was amazed by him. He’s thought of as one of the founding fathers of his generation at Bowdoin.

“He was,” said Mills, “just a great, great man.”

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