The front page of "The Madisonian" announcing the purchase of the newspaper by Mr. Ponder. From the archives

The front page of “The Madisonian” announcing the purchase of the newspaper by Mr. Ponder. From the archives

Memorial Service  Visitation is Friday, Oct. 25 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Church of the Advent Parish Hall. A memorial service is on Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Church of the Advent at 11 a.m. A reception will follow.

Staff Reports

William Graham Ponder, Sr., 89, died on Sunday, Oct. 13.

Ponder, the venerated former publisher of The Madisonian newspaper in Madison, died at his residence at Marsh’s Edge on St. Simons Island.

William Graham Ponder, Sr.

William Graham Ponder, Sr.

Ponder and his wife, Adelaide, purchased The Madisonian in 1957 and, for the next four decades, the couple transformed the local newspaper into an award-winning publication “that helped guide Madison and Morgan County through both tumultuous and flourishing periods…” according to an obituary submitted by the family.

Graham Ponder served as president of the Georgia Press Association, was secretary-treasurer of Greater Georgia Printers and was a charter member of the Atlanta Press Club. He served as president of the Madison Kiwanis Club and the Morgan County Health Association. He was also a member of the Madison City Council and Madison Investment.

Graham Ponder was an integral part of life in Madison and Morgan County. Along with his notable achievements in newspaper publishing, he and his beloved wife, Adelaide, also made significant contributions to historic preservation, culture and the arts.

“Graham Ponder was a consummate newspaper man and community booster,” said Robin Rhodes, executive director, Georgia Newspaper Association. “His leadership in this association and in his hometown set the standard for community newspaper publishers. Madison and Morgan County were blessed to have his influence in the 40 years he and Adelaide published The Madisonian.”

Long-time Madison Mayor Bruce Gilbert agreed. “He was very, very fair in his reporting,” he said. “He loved this city.”

“Graham was born and raised here and was a powerful community leader at that time,” Gilbert said.

Graham Ponder was also an influential leader in re-establishing the Episcopal Church in Morgan County. According to his obituary, he was a “founding member of the re-establishment of the Episcopal Church in Morgan County and the purchase and renovation of Advent Episcopal Church. He served as senior warden for many years and was known for his leadership and beautiful floral arrangments in the church.”

Graham Ponder was a World War II veteran who served in the United States Navy. He attended Emory University and graduated from Clemson University.

He was born on Nov. 5, 1923, in Rutledge and was the son of Paul Holloway and Mary Graham Ponder. Prior to becoming publisher of The Madisonian, Graham Ponder was a cotton broker. He also was a rural mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service for nearly 30 years. He and Adelaide Ponder retired to St. Simons in 2007.