Allen P. McCombs owned Champion Newspapers from 1956 to 2017 and was its publisher until 2006. He was well known for “prodding” government officials to adhere to open meetings laws under the Brown Act and defending the freedom of press as a safeguard of liberty.
For his efforts, he was awarded the first Freedom of Information Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 from the California Newspaper Publishers Association. He was its president in 1982.
He was a founding member of the California First Amendment Coalition and was president of the California Press Association, for which he received its Justus F. Craemer Newspaper Executive of the Year award in 1997 and its Philip N. McCombs Achievement Award in 2014.
McCombs was born Aug. 8, 1929, in Oakland and grew up in Berkeley, graduating from Berkeley High School in 1947. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Stanford University in 1951 and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University in 1953.
McCombs purchased the Champion at the age of 27. The oldest business in San Bernardino County to be published under the same name, the Champion was founded on Nov. 11, 1887. When the City of Chino Hills incorporated in 1991, he made sure the Champion was in line to receive the first business license issued by the city. He later launched The Chino Hills News, Chino Valley News and South Ontario News. He also was the former owner and publisher of the Courier News at Crestline and the Riverside County Record at Rubidoux.
With his Rolltop Roundup column and in local presentations, McCombs shared his love of Chino Valley history with readers and the community. He was a life member of the Chino Valley and Chino Hills historical societies.
McCombs was president of the Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, the former West End United Fund, Chino Toastmasters Club and West End YMCA. He was on the Chino Valley YMCA Board of Directors since its founding. He was a principal founder of the Chino Council of Social Services. And he was a school board member and planning commissioner in the 1960s.
“I think a good publisher has to be a person who likes people and likes to get involved in local things,” he once said. “I always felt there was more than one way to get things done in a community than writing editorials.”