John H. Lenear one of Call & Post's greats

News Desk | 8/1/2014, 2:48 p.m.
He also loved shooting pool and would often be seen at the Playboy Pool Room, where he would shoot a ...
John Henry Lenear.

John Henry Lenear Jan. 7, 1937 – July 14, 2006

John Henry Lenear, the man whose name over the past four decades has become synonymous with The Call & Post Newspaper, died Friday, July 14, after a long illness. He was 69.

John was vice president of advertising and the award-winning editorial page editor of the Call & Post, Cleveland’s oldest and Ohio’s most respected African-American newspaper.

During his decades-long career as a newspaper man, John was tireless in his commitment to Cleveland’s African-American community and his opinions helped shape public policy throughout the state of Ohio. John perfected his craft under the tutelage of the Call & Post’s legendary founder and publisher, William .O. Walker.

John was born on Jan. 7, 1937, to Nadora Dozie Prior and Soloman Mac Lenear, in Eudora, Ark. When he was 6, he and his family left Arkansas and settled in Cleveland, where John eventually attended John Hay High School.

As a young man, he founded his own singing group, Chilly Mac and the Red-Hot Peppers, and even cut a record. John also loved baseball, and played in an organized league in his younger days.

On Dec. 19, 1947, weeks before his 11th birthday, he was baptized at Mount Sinai Baptist Church. He would go on to grow in his spiritual life, serving as a faithful member and deacon of Brethren Fellowship of the Savior.

After attending college at what is now Wayne State University, in Detroit, John started his communications career as a disc jockey at WJMO, and then moving up to the news director’s chair. Additionally, he was a radio network correspondent for CBS, and co hosted a weekly program on a local PBS affiliate.

Though his own music aspirations had been put on hold, John also worked as the head of the wait staff at Leo’s Casino, a nightclub at East 75th Street and Euclid Avenue, where he came into contact with many Motown music legends.

He also loved shooting pool and would often be seen at the Playboy Pool Room, where he would shoot a game with future Cleveland Mayor Carl Stokes or members of the original O’Jays.

Throughout his career, John developed considerable business skills. In the 1960s, he started Metro Communications, a cable television and marketing company. He sold the cable end of the business to his partner in 1979 and the remaining portion in 1995.

John also worked as a community relations consultant to the U.S. Justice Department, and consulted with the Harlem Commonwealth Council. Likewise, he worked as a personal assistant to Irving Kahn, chairman and CEO of the Teleprompter Corporation, the forerunner to Time Warner Cable.

John was also chairman of the Cleveland Cable Television Commission, which created the specifications for the Cleveland Cable Television Franchise.

While John was working for Metro Newspapers as an editor of the 14 Sav-Mor stores’ sales circulars, Walker and Call & Post Business Manager William Harry Alexander noticed his work. Both men were so impressed with John’s layout and editorial skills that they offered him a career at the newspaper.