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Another newspaper editor (and E.J.) served as mayor in 1930s

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

Congratulations are in order for Edward J. Engler, a great newspaperman, upon his election as Mayor of Laconia. He follows in the footsteps of another civic-minded publisher, who shared his first name and middle initial, the late Edward J. Gallagher (1890-1978), who founded what was then the Laconia Evening Citizen in 1925.
Mr. Gallagher, a Democrat when the city held partisan elections, was mayor of Laconia from 1937 to 1939.
Although a New Deal Democrat who served his party as state vice chairman (1939) as a delegate to its national convention (1944), and as a delegate to two state constitutional conventions (1912, 1956), Mr. Gallagher nevertheless took pains to be a fair reporter of the news and to cultivate a thoughtful but low key editorial policy — a reflection of his philosophy that it's not a good idea for a newspaper to, in his words, "keep a community all stirred up."
Like Mr. Engler, "E.J.," as Gallagher was commonly known around and about, was a transplant, who also like Mr. Engler, had published a newspaper in another city, before laying roots in Laconia. Born in Concord, Gallagher first published the Concord Daily Patriot before its offices burned in a spectacular fire that completely destroyed the White's Opera House Block on Park Street near the State House in 1920, which Gallagher also owned.
But Gallagher would not be stopped. After suffering a loss of over $150,000, a huge amount in 1920, within five years he was up and running his presses in Laconia, publishing a daily newspaper begun from scratch that became successful throughout his lifetime and beyond.
And like E.J. Gallagher, Mr. Engler must be made of similar stuff to even contemplate, let alone attempt to pioneer a daily newspaper at a time when most such animals were, and are, on life support, and in a city that long had one, to boot.
But The Laconia Daily Sun is prospering. Read in nearly every waiting room, diner, barbershop and breakfast table in the Lakes Region, the paper not only efficiently presents the news of the day in an attractive format, but generously provides a lively public forum for its readers as none other.
And darned if it isn't free of charge. And, that's one thing old E.J. Gallagher did not do.
Now, Mr. Engler, who among many other accomplishments has held elective office before, as did his late counterpart, will soon be sworn in as Mayor of Laconia.
So, congratulations and best wishes are indeed the order of the day, "Your Honor!" Or should we now be calling you "E.J."?
Guess maybe both would work.

Dean Dexter