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One Moment, Please... The loss of a leader


Fri, Jun 29th, 2012
Posted in All Commentary

When I first heard about John Edstrom passing away on Sunday, June 24, I was in disbelief.

I knew he had been battling lung cancer for some time, but I didn’t realize the extent of his illness.

For those of you who didn’t know John, he was the co-founder and co-owner of the Winona Post, along with his wife Fran. Up until his passing, he was always involved in his newspaper that he and his wife started in 1971.

From my observation of history in this region, the Winona Post was the precursor to newspapers like the Fillmore County Journal and Olmsted County Journal. John and Fran pioneered a foreign concept 41 years ago that would pave the way for a belief that free community newspapers could become the thriving norm so valued by readers in every household served.

As a matter of fact, after our company launched the Olmsted County Journal in April 2011, John Edstrom, a long-time active Director serving on the board of the Minnesota Free Paper Association (MFPA) contacted me by phone to encourage me to get the Olmsted County Journal on-board as a member of MFPA. Of course, that was already on my radar, since the Fillmore County Journal had enjoyed the benefits of an MFPA membership for many years. But, John Edstrom calling me out of the blue to encourage me to get our newspapers involved showed how passionate he was for bringing people and newspapers together. He understood the value of uniting the newspaper industry.

While every media company under the sun currently appears to be poised in a defensive mode, demonstrating a jealousy-amongst-thieves mentality, John was reaching out with an unassuming invitation. Over the past few years, I’ve had quite a number of conversations with John Edstrom.

From time to time, I have visited his website www.winonapost.com to see what his newspaper is working on; often getting some ideas. We even trade newspapers. John has always sent us his newspaper, and we always sent him our two newspapers to his office in Winona.

In February 2012, the Winona Post shared with its readers the good news about winning awards at state and international levels for editorial content and advertising design. And, I could go on and on about what a great product they put out with the Winona Post. It’s really an outstanding free community newspaper; the one that everyone reads in that area.

Actually, because of John, when I was recently asked to accept a nomination for the board of directors with the Minnesota Free Paper Association, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes.” While I don’t necessarily have a whole lot of extra time on my hands with all the irons in the fire that our company juggles on a daily basis, I felt it was important that I make time to get involved in my industry in some greater capacity. There will always be a reason to not get involved, such as being too busy.

Unfortunately, I won’t get to serve on the board of directors of MFPA with John Edstrom. Instead, I can only hope to try to contribute in the same manner he would have if he were here today.

This past week, Winona lost a community leader who left behind a legacy that will continue through the pages of a newspaper he and his wife started from nothing.

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14

1:53:32, Jul 31st 2012

Jason Sethre, Publisher of Fillmore County Journal says:
I owe an apology to Dick and Ester Kelly. It turns out the Fillmore County Journal preceded the Winona Post as a free distribution weekly newspaper, so the FCJ was the precursor to the WP. I apologize for the misinformation.

Jason Sethre
Publisher
Fillmore County Journal


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