Press/Messenger Mourn Loss of Publisher Emeritus

A black ribbon adorns the front door at The Press and the flag at The Union City Daily Messenger is at half staff today.

David Gunn Critchlow, 87, of Union City, publisher emeritus of The Press and The Messenger, died at 3:55 p.m. Sunday at The Arbors in Union City.

Graveside services will be 1 p.m. Wednesday at East View Cemetery in Union City with Dr. Tim Atkins officiating. Visitation will be from 4-6 p.m. Tuesday at White-Ranson Funeral Home in Union City.

Pallbearers will be David Fuzzell, Mike Hutchens, Charles Kirkland, Lee Fry, Mickey Hamilton, David Hamilton, Bart White, Skipper White and Will Wade. Honorary pallbearers will be Frank Caldwell, Fred Roberts, Al Strayhorn, Arthur Melton, Danny Jones, Clay Woods, Jody Harpole, Steve Harpole; caretakers Michelle Davis, Sabrana Flowers and Penny Alexander; past Obion County members of the former First State Bank board; members of the Union City Rotary Club; and the staffs at The Press and The Messenger.

The family requests memorials be made to Obion County Hometown Walk of Hope or the Union City Rotary Club scholarship program.

Critchlow was born Nov. 15, 1930, in Elkhart, Ind., son of the late Edmund Scoven and Charlie (Gunn) Critchlow. When his father purchased The Union City Daily Messenger in 1940, the family moved to Union City, where David Critchlow graduated from Union City High School in 1948.

He attended the University of the South at Sewanee and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1952. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at UT and was a letterman on the track team as a high hurdler.

Soon afterwards, he joined the U.S. Army and served until 1955, when he returned to Union City and became a staff member at the family newspaper. After working for several years as a reporter and photographer, he gradually bought out family interests until, in 1975, he became sole owner and assumed leadership of The Messenger and The Weakley County Press, which was purchased in 1963. Through a merger of two weekly newspapers, he became co-owner of the Trenton Herald-Gazette in 1967.

Critchlow was married to the former Mary Jewell Caldwell for 46 years, from March 7, 1952, until her death May 1, 1998. They were the parents of four children.

In 2001, he married the former Dianne Baber, who survives.

He was a member and past director of the Tennessee Press Association and was a member of both the National Editorial Association and the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association.

He loved tennis but loathed golf, frequently commenting, “I’m the worst golfer I’ve ever played with.”

He contended that his only claim to fame was that his great uncle Will was the only man ever to toss a potato over the courthouse in Kokomo, Ind.

Through the years, he had many interests and projects, including antique gun collecting, camping, scuba diving and the reconstruction of a 1800s log cabin, which he later donated to Discovery Park of America.

As a teenager and high school student, he became a certified pilot, and he continued to fly actively for more than 60 years.

He was a member of the Obion County Commission for 12 years and of Union City Rotary Club for more than 50 years, serving as chairman of the Rotary Club Scholarship Committee while also earning the club’s highest honor by being named a Paul Harris Fellow.

He had also been a member of the board of directors of the former First State Bank.

As a member of the Obion County Museum Board for 10 years, he served as chairman of the organization he had helped found.

He belonged to St. James Episcopal Church, where he had been a member of the vestry and had been president of the Men’s Club.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters and sons-in-law, Julie and Ken Gresham of Jackson, Miss., and Amy and Jim Cady of Meridian, Miss.; two sons and daughters-in-law, David and Heard Critchlow and Scott and Heather Critchlow, all of Union City; 10 grandchildren and their spouses, John and Lindsey Gresham of Jackson, Miss., Leisel (Gresham) and Nicholas Jew of New York City, Scott and Jamey Gresham of Memphis, Mary Grace and Doug McDaniel and Margaret and William Boyce, all of Birmingham, Emily Cady of Nashville and Ellis Critchlow, Sam Critchlow, Mary Lawrence Critchlow and Millie Critchlow, all of Union City; four great-grandchildren, Mary Hollis Gresham, John Gresham, Caldwell Jew and Ellis Jew; and several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his sister, Carolyn Critchlow.

Condolences for the family may be sent to


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