James Hanner Armistead began and ended a distinguished newspaper career at the family-owned Review-Appeal in Franklin, Tennessee, but in the meantime he had a 46-year career with the Tennessean and the Nashville Banner.
Armistead was born October 19, 1908, in Franklin. He attended Franklin public schools and Battle Ground Academy in Franklin.
He began his newspaper career at the age of 10 as a "printer's devil" on the Review-Appeal, then owned by his father, George H. Armistead Sr.
Armistead joined the Nashville Banner in 1928 as an advertising salesman. Five years later he became retail advertising manager. When the Banner and the Tennessean formed the Newspaper Printing Corp. to serve both newspapers, Armistead became retail advertising manager for the corporation.
In 1945, he was promoted to advertising director, and a year later became a vice president of NPC. In 1954, he was named general manager of the corporation. In 1970, he was named a vice president of the Banner, in addition to his duties with NPC. He was named executive vice president and associate publisher of the Banner in 1972. He retired from his positions with the Nashville newspapers in 1973.
During his 46 years with the Nashville newspapers, Armistead was a pioneer in the use of color in newspaper advertising and he lectured on color advertising across the United States. He served as a member of the Special Color Committee of Newspaper Advertising Directors Association and the American Newspaper Publishers Association.
Armistead was also a founder and past president of the Nashville Advertising Federation and a director of the Newspaper Advertisers Association.
In 1963, Armistead and his son, James H. Armistead, Jr., purchased The Review Appeal in Franklin from other family members. After leaving the Nashville newspapers, the senior Armistead became publisher of The Review Appeal where he directed its growth from a small city weekly to a vigorous and growing twice-weekly publication covering the entire county.
At the time of Armistead's death in 1987, John Seigenthaler, editor and publisher of The Tennessean, said:
When I came into journalism, Jimmy Armistead was one of my teachers and one of my friends. He set a standard of professional and personal excellence to everything he did. I am indebted to him both professionally and personally.
Armistead once listed for a reporter some essentials of good salesmanship--enthusiasm, knowledge of your product, the ability to listen, a respect for the opinion of others, and timing. He once said that his favorite hobby is "my work."
"I've never met a man stricken with illness because of overwork. If you love your work, then every day is a vacation," he said.
Armistead was a past president of the Nashville Kiwanis Club, a member of the Metro Auditorium Commission, a senior chairman and a member of the Nashville Chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, a member of the board of Aquinas Junior College, a member of the Bicentennial Commission of Williamson County, and president of the board of directors of the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce. He was a recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow Award from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, its highest award for citizenship and community involvement.