Dealey, Joseph Macdonald (1919–1995)

By: Julia Kathryn Garrett

Type: Biography

Published: September 1, 1995

Updated: June 22, 2019

Joe M. Dealey, newspaperman, son of Clara MacDonald and E. M. (Ted) Dealey, was born in Dallas on July 18, 1919. Both his father and his grandfather, George Bannerman Dealey, were publishers of the Dallas Morning News. As a boy, Joe Dealey developed the firm conviction that he was destined to become a newspaperman. His natural instincts and intellectual curiosity, combined with family tradition, reinforced those early feelings. His career at the Dallas Morning News and A. H. Belo Corporation had its beginning in the mailroom of the Dallas Journal, where he worked in the spring of 1937 before he finished high school. He then prepared for a newspaper career at the University of Texas in Austin, studying English, history, and economics. Following that, at the Southwest School of Printing, he learned the mechanical side of the business. Dealey was drafted into the Army Air Corps in 1942, and following World War II he returned to the News, renewing his career as a reporter in 1946. From that date, his service to Belo was uninterrupted until his death.

Dealey married Doris Carolyn Russell on January 18, 1947. They had four children. In 1950 he was named assistant secretary of Belo and became a key member of the management team at a crucial time as the company expanded into television, complementing its long-time newspaper and radio operations. In 1952 he was elected to the company's board of directors, along with three other grandsons of G. B. Dealey. With his cousins Al Dealey, Ben Decherd, and Jimmy Moroney, Dealey ushered in a third generation of family participation at Belo. Also in 1952, Dealey was one of the principal participants in the establishment of the G. B. Dealey Foundation, and with his leadership over four decades, the philanthropic foundation grew to almost $22 million in assets and made grants to 152 charitable organizations. In 1960 Dealey was named president and chief executive officer of Belo and the News, succeeding his father as head of the company. In assuming the role, he embarked on a career of unstinted civic involvement that continued throughout his life. His active participation with countless institutions, such as Children's Medical Center of Dallas, the United Way of Dallas, Scottish Rite Hospital, the Dallas Zoological Society, the State Fair of Texas, and the Dallas Historical Society, was recognized when he was presented the Linz Award in 1967.

During the 1960s and early 1970s he was also active in matters of importance to the newspaper industry. He served in various leadership roles with the Texas Daily Newspaper Association, the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, and the American Newspaper Publishers Association, as well as United Press International. In 1980 he became chairman of the board of Belo and publisher of the Dallas Morning News. Teaming up with his cousins Jimmy Moroney and Robert Decherd, he held a steady course through the company's first public stock offering, which came in 1981. When Dealey stepped down as chairman in 1984, Belo had total assets of $692.4 million-sixty-six times the company's total assets when he became chief executive officer in 1960. After his retirement as chairman, Dealey continued his distinguished service as a director of Belo. He died on April 7, 1995.

  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Publishers and Executives
  • Military
  • World War II
Time Periods:
  • World War II
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Julia Kathryn Garrett, “Dealey, Joseph Macdonald,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 27, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995
June 22, 2019

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