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What's Up Magazine

Thomas L. Marquardt

Jan 26, 2015 09:44AM ● By James Houck
Thomas Marquardt has played his hand well. So well, his hands have been involved in an outstanding number of endeavors. And they’ve literally put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard to achieve storytelling, news coverage, perspective, and influence for more than 40 years. Marquardt’s most prominent and remembered leadership role—that of Editor and Publisher for Capital-Gazette Newspapers, from which he retired in 2012—is but a fraction of the sum that has made him a dynamo in arenas other than publishing.

For this career journalist, ascending to the role of Publisher for Annapolis’ own, The Capital, was a pinnacle accomplishment guided by a sound philosophy. “Remain open to different opinions, seek to learn from others, remain informed and engaged,” the 66-year-old Marquardt enthuses to me via email (he’s ever typing away). As an editor Marquardt’s vision for the paper “was to provide the opportunity to aspiring journalists to learn their trade with freedom to pursue their curiosities and writing desires, provide a newspaper product focused on relevant local news, bring transparency to government, and present a balanced editorial product that was open to all opinions and special interests.”

That openness is what allowed Marquardt to absorb leadership qualities while on the job and give back to not only his employees, but also the community at large. He has a strong desire to learn, educate, and assist others to the best of his abilities. It is, perhaps, the result of growing up in Dearborn, Michigan, the son of a factory worker for Ford Motor Company. “My father never graduated from high school,” Marquardt says. “And my mother was a high school graduate but did not work—she volunteered as a ‘Rosie the Riveter’ during WWII.” It’s a logical assumption that Marquardt’s blue collar childhood instilled a persistent work ethic and was catalyst to seek more creative pursuits in life. But he confirms an even more telling memory of inspiration. “I wanted to be a reporter ever since I checked out a library book, ‘I Want to Be a News Reporter,’ while I was in elementary school. I have a copy of the book today,” he says. And so it began.

“I published from my typewriter a newspaper for my classmates in middle school. I was editor of my college newspaper, Central Michigan Life,” Marquardt muses. It was career destiny. A career choice he made official when graduating from Central Michigan University in 1970 with a degree in education and journalism (the same year he married wife Sue). From there he would embark (not too far) to the Big Rapids Pioneer where he landed as a reporter, then editor. After a two-year stint, Marquardt moved to Ypsilanti Press (closer to home) before ultimately committing to a job 550 miles away. He joined Capital-Gazette Newspapers in 1977 as Managing Editor, a role he kept until 2005, when he was promoted to Executive Editor and finally Publisher.

Of his time serving as Publisher, Marquardt says that he most proud, “of steering a newspaper through some very difficult times and serving a community that has been very kind to me.

“There were significant fiscal challenges ahead of me when I stepped into the role. That it is prospering today is a result of difficult decisions. I learned that difficult decisions should be accompanied by compassion and understanding.”

Marquardt’s empathetic approach to business also extends through his service to a number of nonprofit endeavors, having previously served as board president of Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts and currently as: board president of Leadership Anne Arundel; board member of the Anne Arundel County Library Foundation; board vice president of the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center; and as board president of the Southwind Lot Owners Association (in Chester, Kent Island, where he resides today).

“As a retiree, my philosophy is to give back to the community through service to nonprofit organizations and provide them the expertise I gained as a business manager and community leader,” says the hematite-haired Marquardt, whose good looks and vigor remain in check.

Of course, his seemingly endless pursuit of the truth, of sound journalism, and inspired writing have earned Marquardt many accolades, including a number of Hall of Fame inductions (all in 2013): Anne Arundel and Annapolis Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame; Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association Hall of Fame; Central Michigan University Hall of Fame.

Still though, it’s his love of journalism, of writing, and of making a difference in the community that have moved Marquardt through his career, not the hope of an award or banquet dinner. And writing is still very much in his blood; he continues to write special correspondent pieces for The Capital, as well as co-write a nationally syndicated wine column that first appeared in that paper 26 years ago. He’s a self-described “avid wine collector” and enjoys fishing and boating from his waterfront home. Marquardt says travel is very much in his plans, but we have a hunch that when a good story in the community needs telling, a Thomas Marquardt byline will soon surface.