George P. Brockway, former president and chairman of W.W. Norton & Company, who was also an editor, author and the architect of W.W. Norton's longtime independence, died Oct. 5 at his home in Chappaqua, N.Y., after a long illness. He was 85.
Brockway began his publishing career at McGraw-Hill in 1936 and moved to Norton in 1942, before leaving to join the army for two years. He returned to Norton after the war, working as the advertising manager and later director of the college department. For many years he was a general editor. He invented the three flagship Norton literary anthologies (a series that has sold more than 20 million copies) in the 1950s and also acquired and edited such influential titles as Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique and Robert F. Kennedy's Thirteen Days. He was named a vice-president in 1951, became Norton's president in 1958 and was named chairman in 1976, a position he held until he retired in 1984. A fierce defender of independent publishing, he created the current financial structure of Norton, whose stock is owned entirely by company employees.
Brockway was a columnist and author whose books include Economists Can Be Bad for Your Health: Second Thoughts on the Dismal Science. Known for his bow ties and quick wit, he also claimed to be proud to have been on Richard Nixon's enemies list. "George Brockway was, simply, one of the finest publishers of his era," said W. Drake McFeely, president and chairman of Norton. "He invented an ownership structure that allows W.W. Norton to remain independent 78 years after its founding and long after all the other famous houses established in the 1920s have been merged into larger corporate entities." A memorial service will be held October 26, 4—6 p.m., at the Century Association, 7 West 43rd St., New York, N.Y.