Open main menu

Tom W. Loyless (ca.1871 - March 19, 1926) is now best known as the managing owner of the Warm Springs spa resort (for which his financial backer was George Foster Peabody). Prior to managing the resort, Loyless, a native of west Georgia, served as a newspaper reporter, editor and publisher at papers in Augusta, Columbus and Macon.

As a young editor Loyless earned a reputation for bluntness and a fiery temper that did not always limit itself to print. An 1897 dispute with H.C. Hanson, editor of the rival Macon Morning Telegraph (later merged with Macon Evening News to form the Macon Telegraph) in which Loyless accused Hanson of bias in reporting became so heated that when meeting Hanson in person Loyless struck him. Hanson in turn drew a handgun.

By 1915 Loyless was editor of the Augusta Chronicle. He was one of the few newspaper editors in Georgia to proclaim the innocence of Leo Frank and denounced his prosecutors as corrupt. Though he continued to edit the paper until 1920, his editorials about Frank cost him his local popularity and made him an enemy of the Ku Klux Klan. Soon after his departure from the Chronicle, he became the manager of the Warm Springs resort.

Loyless proved an ambitious caretaker of the much-in-disrepair property. After a young man suffering from polio discovered that the springs helped him, Loyless and Warm Springs attracted the attention of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had been stricken by a paralytic illness in 1921, diagnosed at the time as polio. Based on his own improvement, Roosevelt decided that Warm Springs could help victims of polio, and he worked together with Loyless on improvements to the resort and spa.

Loyless remained at Warm Springs until his health failed due to cancer in 1925. An obituary (featuring the subheading "Georgia Editor Was an Unceasing Enemy of the Klan") appeared on page 19 of the March 22, 1926, issue of the New York Times.

Loyless is portrayed in the 2005 movie Warm Springs by Tim Blake Nelson. While the film gives the impression that Loyless was no longer active in newspapers at the time of Roosevelt's visits, he was in fact still involved with the Columbus (Georgia) Ledger (of which Loyless owned a percentage). Franklin Roosevelt contributed several editorials to the paper as a guest editor and nine guest-editorials for Loyless's former paper, the Macon Telegraph, which were syndicated nationally.[1]

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit