June 20, 2018
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Sandy Polster, former Times Record editor and BDN columnist ‘fired by the best,’ dies

By JT Leonard, Times Record

Editor’s note: Sandy Polster was a Bangor Daily News columnist in the mid 1990s.

Sandor M. “Sandy” Polster, former managing editor of the Times Record, died Thursday, March 21, from the effects of an almost-three-year battle with gastric cancer. He was 71.

Polster was an Ohio native whose subsequent life and journalism career in New York City largely shaped — or as he himself often joked, “justified” — his brusque personality. Often terse and abrasive, he is remembered for bringing volume and ambition wherever he went.

During a career in news that ranged from print to television and back again, Polster was fond of saying that he “had been fired by the best” of both industries. He cited a seven-year stint as editor and news writer for CBS News, with journalism icon Walter Cronkite, as “the best, most challenging, most fun years” of his career.

Likewise, his subsequent firing by Cronkite’s successor, Dan Rather, after five years remained a feather in his figurative cap. For years, Polster maintained in his office a picture of him peering over Cronkite’s shoulder while the pair refined a story for broadcast.

Moving to a slightly smaller media market in 1998, Polster was hired by then-owners Campbell and Douglas Niven to overhaul news gathering and reporting at The Times Record — to immediate effect upon both the newspaper staff and its readership. Though his tenure at Six Industry Road lasted only eight months, Polster is remembered to have brought a larger-market expectation and intensity to the small daily’s newsroom, to the delight of some and to the chagrin of others.

In later years he served as adviser and instructor to student scribes at the Bowdoin Orient, the small private college’s weekly student-produced paper and its online “extra” edition, the OrientExpress.com.

Since being diagnosed with the condition in 2010, Polster and his wife, Rea, spent increasingly more time away from their Durham home in favor of New York City, to be with their grandson, Ben.

A scribe to the end, the former newsman wrote his own obituary to be released to his friends and associates upon his death.

“Greetings from the beyond, wherever it is,” the piece begins. However, in newspaper industry terms, it reads more like a memorial appreciation than an obituary.

Upon receiving the three-page, 1,438-word piece late Thursday, one former colleague reacted by commenting, “The man wrote his own appreciation. How ‘Polster’ is that?”

Correction: This story was updated on March 24 to identify the Bowdoin Orient as a weekly, not daily, newspaper at Bowdoin College. 

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