Tri-State Defender publisher, president Bernal Smith II has died, newspaper says

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Bernal E. Smith II, publisher of the Tri-State Defender

By Wayne Risher

Bernal E. Smith II, president and publisher of The New Tri-State Defender and Memphis civic leader, died Sunday at his home, his newspaper reported. He was 45.

The Defender, one of the country’s oldest African American newspapers, quoted a family spokesman as saying Mr. Smith was with family when he was found Sunday afternoon. Details weren’t immediately available.

“The New Tri-State Defender and its management board is devastated,” said a joint statement from associate publisher Karanja Ajanaku and Calvin Anderson, president of Best Media Properties, the Defender’s parent company.

Bernal E. Smith II, president and publisher of The New Tri-State Defender and Memphis civic leader, died Sunday at his home, his newspaper reported. He was 45. Wochit

“We learned late this afternoon that Mr. Smith had passed. We extend our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to his family. We ask that all take note of the family’s request for privacy at this time,” the statement added.

Mr. Smith engineered the Defender’s move to local ownership, with a local investment group, in 2013. It previously was owned by Real Times Media Inc.

He also was a partner in Olympic Financial Services Inc., which offers tax preparation, short term loans and credit counseling, his LinkedIn profile said.

Mr. Smith was a graduate of Rhodes College and had a masters of business administration from Union University.

He was active in the community, including mentoring inner city youth and previously serving as president of the 100 Black Men of Memphis Inc.

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