"The creation of Eagle was his brainchild," said John McIntyre, vice president and COO of Eagle Newspapers. "Stew was probably the person with the most ideas I've ever met. He had an idea for everything. And a lot of them came true. He was always thinking way ahead of everyone else " bigger and more complex than the rest of us."
Everywhere he went, Mr. Hancock was armed with a red felt-tipped pen and piece of yellow legal paper for his notes. When reporters wrote an article he particularly liked, they were rewarded with a "Stew Star" " a copy of the story with a red star on the top.
He was omnipresent at community events across Eagle's two-county coverage area. It was ordinary for him to leave his Highbridge Street office in Fayetteville for a meeting downtown, then head up to a chamber gathering in Baldwinsville before reversing fields for a community event in Cazenovia or Canastota. During his brief appearances at these events, he would constantly jot down notes and line up the movers and shakers for a photograph for the newspapers. Then he would be off to the next event, his day not ending until well after the sun went down.
Mr. Hancock's contacts were too many to count, and his persistent but affable nature allowed his newspapers to gain access that other, larger media agencies couldn't. When Eagle Newspapers launched Empire Media, a series of statewide publications, he called the often-elusive Gov. George Pataki, who reserved an hour and a half for an interview. Whether it was a news source or a possible advertiser, Mr. Hancock never hesitated to introduce himself and let it be known what he wanted. Some may have considered him pushy, but his friendliness and familiarity with so many people made it an endearing kind of pushiness that usually left people with a smile on their faces.