Dictionary of Virginia Biography

Raymond Blanton Botton (8 September 1893–29 October 1953), newspaper publisher and civic leader, was born in Richmond, the son of Davis Bottom and Ella Virginia Alley Bottom. After completing public school, he worked for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. Bottom was a member of the Richmond Light Infantry Blues until 1916 and entered the United States Army the next year. He joined the air corps and served in France during World War I and in Germany afterward. Thereafter he was stationed at various posts in the United States and the Philippines as a captain in the 61st Coast Artillery. On 2 July 1925, while stationed at Fort Monroe, Bottom married Dorothy Eva Rouse, daughter of William Elmer Rouse, a Newport News businessman. They had one son and two daughters.

Bottom resigned from the army at the end of December 1930 and moved to Hampton to take over management of the Daily Press, Inc., in which his father-in-law had recently purchased a controlling interest. The Newport News company published the city's two daily newspapers, the morning Daily Press and the evening Times-Herald. Bottom quickly became a respected and influential figure in Virginia journalism. He served as president of the Virginia Press Association from 1935 to 1939. Already involved as publisher in the daily operations of both newspapers, Bottom in 1944 assumed the editorship of the Daily Press. He also served as president of the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce from 1938 to 1940.

Bottom was a tireless booster for the Hampton Roads area. Among the civic improvements he advocated were the bridge to link the Peninsula with Gloucester County that opened shortly before his death and a highway link with Norfolk that was constructed after he died. Late in 1945 Bottom traveled to London to invite the United Nations to make its permanent headquarters on a tract of land near Williamsburg. He served in 1951 and 1952 as cochairman of the Virginia Ports Development Committee, a private body that lobbied for the creation of the Virginia State Ports Authority. Bottom also promoted the consolidation of local governments in the Peninsula and helped bring about a referendum in March 1950 on the question of whether to abolish the counties of Elizabeth City and Warwick, the town of Phoebus, and the cities of Hampton and Newport News and replace all the jurisdictions with a new city of Hampton Roads. This ambitious referendum failed, but the idea later led to the consolidation of Hampton and Elizabeth City County and to the consolidation of Newport News and Warwick County.

Bottom held a commission as a major in the army reserves during the 1930s and served in Norfolk with the rank of lieutenant commander in the navy during World War II. In addition to his newspapers he invested in other businesses in the Hampton Roads area. At the time of his death he was president of Hampton Roads Broadcasting Corporation, which owned and operated a radio station. Bottom sat on the boards of directors of several corporations and was one of the organizers of the Virginia Travel Council, founded to stimulate the lucrative tourist industry. He supported improvements at Hampton Institute (later Hampton University) and served on the local committee of the United Negro College Fund, which won him more respect from African Americans than many other editors and publishers of daily newspapers in Virginia enjoyed during the 1940s.

Raymond Blanton Bottom died of a heart attack at his home in Hampton on 29 October 1953 and was buried in the local Greenlawn Cemetery. His widow took over his journalistic enterprises and achieved prominence in her own right.

Sources Consulted:
Feature article in Commonwealth 2 (Aug. 1935): 19 (portrait); Birth Register, Richmond City, Bureau of Vital Statistics (BVS), Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Health, Record Group 36, Library of Virginia (LVA); Military Service Records, World War I History Commission Records, Record Group 66, LVA; BVS Marriage Register, Newport News; Newport News Times-Herald, 2 July 1925; obituaries in Newport News Times-Herald, 29 Oct. 1953, and Newport News Daily Press, 30 Oct. 1953 (portrait), and shorter notices in most other Virginia newspapers and in New York Times, 30 Oct. 1953.

Written for the Dictionary of Virginia Biography by Brent Tarter.

How to cite this page:
Brent Tarter,"Raymond Blanton Botton (1893–1953)," Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Library of Virginia (1998– ), published 2001 (http://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/dvb/bio.php?b=Bottom_Raymond_Blanton, accessed [today's date]).

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