Francis Sleeper, a business reporter for the Portland Press Herald, Maine Sunday Telegram and Evening Express for nearly four decades, died Friday in Portland. He was 79.
Sleeper, who died after a long struggle with prostate cancer, was a quirky, old-fashioned and hardworking newsman who wielded enormous influence in the local business community during the 1950s and 1960s.
An AP story noted, “‘When Frank Sleeper spoke on matters of business back then, everybody listened,’ said Dennis Twomey, who joined the news staff as a reporter in 1967. ‘He was kind of a legendary fixture among young reporters.’
Sleeper, who was born in Worcester, Mass. and graduated from high school in Winchester, Mass., carried a foot-thick stack of papers around with him, and his desk was typically piled high with them. ‘You couldn’t even see Frank behind the desk,’ said Louis Ureneck, a former editor, who also recalled that it was not unusual to find Sleeper writing stories in the newsroom at 4 a.m.
“A Harvard University graduate, Sleeper earned master’s degrees from American University and Princeton University and studied in Egypt for two years on a Fulbright Scholarship before being hired as a reporter for the Portland Newspapers in 1953.
“From 1958 until last November, Sleeper was the Maine correspondent for Time, Life, Sports Illustrated and Fortune magazines.”
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