Locals share their memories of Roger Ailes

Tribune Chronicle file photo Warren native and Fox News creator Roger Ailes spoke at a Nov. 11, 2008, dedication ceremony in Warren.

WARREN — Roger Ailes, who rose from a local kid to the leader of Fox News, left many friends and acquaintances in his hometown with fond memories and stories about his generosity.

Ailes, a 1958 graduate of Warren G. Harding High School, died Thursday from complications of a subdural hematoma he suffered when he fell and struck his head May 10 at his home in Palm Beach, Fla.

Warren attorney Ned Gold got to know Ailes in 2008 when he was working on the Trumbull County Veterans Memorial.

“We heard he was a great supporter of veterans, so we contacted him and asked if he would be our featured speaker,” Gold said. “He graciously agreed and he made a substantial contribution. His contribution has been memorialized on the podium at the memorial.”

Gold said Ailes’ best friend was one of the last soldiers killed in Vietnam.

It did not take too long for Ailes and Gold to become friends.

“He was proud to say he came from a blue-collar, working-class family,” Gold said. “He also was proud of where he went in life. No matter how important he became, there was a humility about him. He was a very close family man to his wife, Beth, and son, Zachary.”

Former Youngstown State University political science professor William Binning described Ailes being very instrumental in former Cleveland Mayor George Voinovich’s campaign to become governor.

“It was Voinovich’s ability to get Ailes to work on his campaign that helped convince a lot of people to support him,” Binning said. “It was Voinovich’s run for governor that began the resurgence of the Republican Party in Ohio.”

Dennis Blank, founder of Warren Expressed, met Ailes when he worked at Fortune Magazine and needed a speaker for a conference.

“We connected because we both were from Warren,” Blank said. “We didn’t talk about politics. We talked about business and about Warren.”

Adam Earnheardt, chairman of the communication department at YSU, described Ailes as having a monumental effect on the television new business.

“People tend to forget he was chairman of CNBC, before he founded FOX news,” Earnheardt said. “He changed television news by bringing in a political perspective. At the time, CNN was the largest cable news organization. No one thought any network would surpass them for a long time.”