Massillon Cable TV Founder Richard (Dick) Gessner Dies

"It is hard to measure the impact he had on the company, the industry, so many people and the community at large." —Robert Gessner, MCTV president and son of company founder Richard Gessner

Massillon Cable TV (MCTV) founder Richard (Dick) Winfield Gessner, died at his home in Massillon, Ohio, on July 18. He was 90 years old.

Dick Gessner

Dick Gessner

Gessner, a 1950 graduate of Bucknell University, founded Massillon Cable TV with his wife Susan in 1965. Prior to cable TV, Gessner worked in radio and television in Philadelphia and New York, including a brief stint as a page at NBC. 

His first cable TV experience was obtaining franchises in upstate New York, helping the late Paul Harron Sr. launch Harron Communications' first cable systems. Recognized as a Cable Pioneer in 2009, Gessner was one of the founders of the Ohio Cable Television Association and served as chair of the Community Antenna Television Association.

Related | The Cable Center | Oral Histories: Richard and Robert Gessner

"MCTV was very special to my dad," his son Robert Gessner, , MCTV president, said in a statement. "Actually, it was the people at MCTV who were so special to him. He gave so much of his time and energy to the company. It is hard to measure the impact he had on the company, the industry, so many people and the community at large."

MCTV will continue to operate as a family business, now managed by second- and third-generation family members.

"In addition to being a great family man, caring neighbor and committed member of the Massillon community, Dick Gessner was a cable television visionary, a man who saw the future and pursued it with joy and dedication,” said American Cable Association CEO Matt Polka in a statement. “He had a long and legendary career that should inspire all of us.

"In MCTV, Dick Gessner built a company that today enables the Massillon community, including schools, businesses and anchor institutions from libraries to hospitals to universities, to have access to unrivaled video and communications services so necessary to ensure a fulfilling future in a connected world,” Polka continued. “That tradition of excellence established by Dick Gessner lives on through his son Bob Gessner, who is MCTV's current president and the American Cable Association's chair since 2014. That tradition is expected to continue with the next generation as Bob's daughter Katherine takes on more leadership responsibilities within the company." 

SCTE-ISBE president and CEO Mark Dzuban remembered Gessner for his insight and recognition of the importance of technology innovation to the industry as a whole. 

“Dick Gessner instilled in Massillon Cable a keen awareness of how cable’s organizations are connective tissue that keeps the industry together," Dzuban said in a statement. "He recognized how technology innovation could benefit operators of any size, and inspired support for SCTE•ISBE across the small- and mid-size operator community.”

Funeral details are available at the Paquelet Funeral Home website. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate memorial contributions to the Massillon Museum Capital Campaign (121 Lincoln Way E, Massillon, OH 44646).