John T. Tuthill III, of Bellport, the third generation of publishers to guide the Long Island Advance, died Saturday at Long Island Community Hospital following a long illness. He was 86.
Tuthill began his career with the Advance, then known as the Patchogue Advance, in December 1957 following in the footsteps of his father, Captain John T. Tuthill Jr., and grandfather, James Canfield. His employment at the Advance was delayed, however, due to the size of the Advance building on North Ocean Avenue. At the time of his graduation from Colgate University, the office was so cramped that it could not even accommodate another desk. As a result, Tuthill worked for the Rockland County Leader in Spring Valley, where he was a member of the advertising staff. Once the current building was complete, Tuthill joined his father as assistant publisher and headed up the advertising department.
Following the death of Captain Tuthill in June 1972, Tuthill became the paper’s publisher. Under his leadership, the size of the paper changed from a broadsheet to a tabloid format. He also changed the name to the Long Island Advance. The Advance purchased The Long Island News in 1972 and, with his wife Lorelei, they purchased the Suffolk County News and Islip Bulletin in 1985. In 1992, he began the process of changing the way newspapers would publish forever. Desktop publishing did away with the army of paste-up artists and dark rooms. By late 1992, the Advance could claim 100 percent electronic prepress, exactly 100 years after Canfield purchased the paper. In 2011 Tuthill oversaw the creation of the Tide of Moriches as well as the purchase of the Tri Hamlet News, an online news site. The Advance has received numerous Press Association awards over the years, notably for coverage of the 1995 Sunrise wildfires, TWA Flight 800 disaster, and the World Trade Center attacks. The association has also recognized the Advance and its sister papers for its coverage of local government, sports, editorials and advertising excellence.
Born at Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson in 1932, Tuthill grew up in Patchogue, having lived on Rose Avenue and later at the former Elks Lodge on East Main Street, now the location of TD Bank. During WWII, Tuthill moved around due to his father receiving orders to report to active duty, first in Manhattan, then Kalamazoo, Mich., Columbia, S.C. and, finally, Minneapolis, Minn. After the war, the family purchased a home in Brookhaven hamlet. A Bellport High School graduate, Tuthill served two years in the Navy before graduating from Colgate, where he majored in economics and was a member of Delta Upsilon Fraternity.
Tuthill was a member of Patchogue Rotary Club and is a Paul Harris Fellow recipient, Rotary’s highest Service Above Self award. He was vice president and president of the New York Press Association (1973), a trustee of the Bellport Yacht Club, and a member of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum Commission. He served on the board of the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, was president of Brookhaven Memorial Hospital’s advisory board, served on the board of managers of the Brookhaven YMCA and was its board president in 1960. He played an integral role in the planning of the construction of its indoor pool. Most recently, he was part of the vestry for Christ Episcopal Church in Bellport.
Tuthill is survived by his wife, Lorelei Pries-Ritholz Tuthill; his sister, Mrs. Joan Munhofen of Williamsburg, Va.; sons, J. Terry Tuthill IV and wife, Joanne of Bellport, and Jeffery S. Ritholz of West Babylon; daughters, Julie G. Fehring and husband, Robert, and Susan K. Ritholz of Brooklyn; grandchildren, Heidi and Brad Fehring, and John T. Tuthill V and Ashley E. Tuthill. He was predeceased by his sisters, Louise Tuthill and Priscilla Carleton.
A wake will be held at Robertaccio Funeral Home, 85 Medford Avenue, Patchogue, tonight, Thursday, Sept. 27, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to either Christ Episcopal Church Bellport, 64 South Country Road, or to the New York Press Association Foundation, 621 Columbia Street Extension, Suite 100, Cohoes, NY 12047, and would be appreciated by the family.