Remembering Kerry Ashmore: journalist, jazz musician

Photo courtesy of Margo Ashmore

Cancer took the life of Kerry Ashmore last month, but it will apparently not put his community newspapers, North News and the Northeaster, out of business.  Ashmore, 59, died Jan. 27 after a year-long battle with cancer, said Margo Ashmore, Kerry’s wife and business partner of more than 30 years.

The paper, she said, will continue its focus on local coverage and fulfill her husband’s endeavor to engage and educate young people.

“He was not only a newspaper publisher but he was a Dixieland musician,” said Margo.  “I think a common theme between those two, is that he really enjoyed working with young people and educating people about what each of those crafts were about.”

Kerry sang, played the banjo and clarinet, and was “credible on piano,” said Margo.  A music education graduate of the University of Minnesota, Kerry later worked at WMMR – now Radio K – where he met Margo.  The two purchased the Northeaster in 1981 and expanded the business to include the North News in 1991.

I met Kerry Ashmore while I was a young editor at a “rival” community newspaper – Insight News.  I placed the word rival in quotes, because at the time, I wouldn’t have guessed his paper and mine were competing for the same ad dollars at the time of our meeting.  I can’t remember what we talked about, but I do remember Kerry was kind and gracious.

Margo said her husband, while a stickler for journalistic detail, did not like the “gotcha” aspect of reporting.  “He was kind to a fault,” said Margo.

A fund in Kerry’s name as been established with the Minnesota News Media Institute, a non-profit arm of the Minnesota Newspaper Association.  Margo said donations may be used to provide scholarships or fund educational forums.