Joann Meyer, Longtime Editor of a Besieged Newspaper, Dies at 98

Joann Meyer, who spent almost 60 years as a reporter, columnist, editor and affiliate writer at The Marion County File in Kansas, died on Saturday at her residence, a day after the police searched the newspaper’s workplaces. She was 98.

Her son, Eric Meyer, the newspaper’s writer, confirmed the loss of life. He stated that the trigger had not been decided, however that the coroner had concluded that the stress of the searches — at her residence, which she shared with him, in addition to on the paper’s workplaces — was a contributing issue.

The raids got here after a neighborhood businesswoman accused the newspaper of illegally buying a letter from the native authorities explaining how she might reinstate her driver’s license after it had been suspended following a quotation for drunken driving in 2008.

The newspaper, which stated it had obtained the doc from an nameless supply, verified the data, however Mr. Meyer determined to not publish an article about it. However, on Friday morning a decide issued a warrant allowing the police to look the Meyer residence and the newspaper’s workplaces for proof of id theft and the “illegal use of a computer.”

An hour later, members of the city’s police division confirmed up on the Meyers’ home, which Mrs. Meyer and her husband had moved into in 1953, the day earlier than Eric was born. They took computer systems, cellphones, paperwork and even Mrs. Meyer’s Alexa good speaker.

Mr. Meyer stated that his mom was in shock after the raid, and that she had hassle sleeping. On Saturday, he went to wake her after midday, and to carry her breakfast, which she refused to eat.

“She said over and over again, ‘Where are all the good people to put a stop to this?’” he stated. “She felt like, how can you go through your entire life and then have something that you spent 50 years of your life doing just kind of trampled on like it’s meaningless?”

She died in midsentence, he stated, at round 1:30 p.m.

Marion’s chief of police, Gideon Cody, has refused to enter element concerning the case, however he has insisted that extra info can be forthcoming.

Marion is a city of about 2,000 individuals, positioned amid the huge flat cornfields of central Kansas, roughly 50 miles north of Wichita.

As at most small-town papers, job titles at The File are nominal; everybody does all the things. Editors would possibly write articles, reporters would possibly sweep the flooring. Mrs. Meyer labored as a replica editor and the social information editor, and for many years she wrote a column about native historical past referred to as Reminiscences.

“She was a walking encyclopedia of local history,” Rowena Plett, a options reporter for The File, stated in a telephone interview.

The File is a Meyer household affair. Mrs. Meyer’s husband, Invoice, started working there in 1948, and he or she joined him within the early Sixties, as soon as Eric was sufficiently old to stick with her mother and father for a number of hours.

“My father wrote and my mother read,” stated Eric Meyer, who additionally wrote for the newspaper in highschool. “They spent 24 hours a day together.”

The newspaper had a status for aggressive reporting alongside the type of lighter fare typically present in small-town publications. Current protection included an article a few thresher exhibition and an exposé of a rip-off involving supposedly free Covid exams.

In 1998, when the longtime homeowners of The File, the Hoch household, determined to promote it, the Meyers stepped in as consumers to stop it from going to a company chain. In addition they purchased two close by papers, The Hillsboro Star-Journal and The Peabody Gazette-Bulletin.

Joann Wight was born on Might 23, 1925, in Marion and infrequently ventured past its limits. Her father, Ollie Wight, was a city marshal, and her mom, Mercil (Thompson) Wight, ran a funeral residence.

Earlier than becoming a member of the employees of The File, she labored in a grocery retailer, a hospital and an alfalfa mill.

She married William Meyer in 1949; he died in 2006. Alongside together with her son, she is survived by a grandson and three great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Meyer set the tone for the newspaper as a punctilious editor — although she refused to let anybody, even her husband or son, contact her copy.

After her husband’s loss of life, Mrs. Meyer stepped again from lots of her day by day duties on the paper. Eric, who had spent his profession as a journalist in Milwaukee and later as a journalism professor on the College of Illinois, returned residence to assist. He finally took over as editor and writer.

She continued to put in writing her column each week till final yr, when a medical process broken her imaginative and prescient. However she would nonetheless write an occasional article, with the assistance of her son.

For the reason that raids, the newspaper’s employees has struggled to place out the following situation, due to each the shortage of kit — the police took many of the computer systems — and the sudden worldwide consideration being solid on their small city.

Along with fixed calls from the information media, Mr. Meyer stated, they’ve been contacted by quite a few well-wishers and subscribers keen to assist out.

“She would feel very good about all this,” he stated.

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