Jackie Lee “Jack” Stoner, 74, who owned the Methow Valley News from 1972-76, died on June 5 at his home in Cle Elum. He was born on March 5, 1940, to Elmer and Bonnie Stoner in Kansas City, Missouri.
Jack got his first taste of the newspaper business when he was 12 years old with a newspaper route — delivering the Topeka Daily Capital for a few years. In 1956, he went to work at the Oskaloosa Independent as a printer’s apprentice. He kept this job even into his college years at Kansas University in Lawrence.
While attending journalism classes at K.U., Jack dated and got engaged to the love of his life, Jerri Tosh. They were married in 1961. Jack held newspaper jobs as a typesetter and production manager at newspapers in Nebraska, Colorado and New Mexico over the next several years.
Jack and Jerri purchased their first community weekly newspaper business in 1972 — the Methow Valley News. During their four-and-half-years in the Methow Valley, Jack served as a captain with the volunteer fire department and as treasurer of the Twisp Kiwanis Club, and was in the Chamber of Commerce.
Their tiny newspaper office in Twisp housed a sheet-fed letterpress and two Linotypes that were used to produce the weekly news. The small crew would assemble and fold all the newspapers by hand each week before distribution. The business also featured a retail office supply store and several small job-printing letterpresses in the back shop.
In 1976, the family sold the Methow Valley News and moved to South Dakota, where they purchased a three-community newspaper chain and spent the next 22 years. After selling the newspapers in South Dakota, Jack, Jerri and their daughter Jana purchased the Northern Kittitas County Tribune and the office supply store in Cle Elum in 1999. Jana Stoner is the publisher of the Tribune.
A celebration of Jack’s life will be organized at a future date. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations made in his name to either Life Support (www.lifesupporti90.org/content/donate-now), or towards scholarships for journalism students provided by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Assoc. Foundation (www.wnpa.com/foundation).