2023 In Memoriam

In Memoriam
Remembering NFPW and affiliate members who’ve died or whose death notices were received since the June 2022 NFPW conference.

Arkansas Press Women
Brenda Blagg
, 75, a former APW president and NFPW sweepstakes winner, died Dec. 14. Blagg was a longtime political correspondent, a staunch advocate for the Freedom of Information Act and author of "Political Magic: The Travels, Trials and Triumphs of the Clintons' Arkansas Travelers," a book about Arkansans' roles in the 1992 presidential campaign. An avid Arkansas Razorbacks fan, Blagg had been a journalist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and an editor with the Arkansas Traveler. Tributes lauded her as someone who was fair, thorough and acting from a place of integrity, and a mentor to young journalists.

Ouida Hutto Cox, 98, died Oct. 13, 2021. She retired in 2012 as editor of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives publications, after having edited 800 issues of Arkansas Living Magazine. She joined APW in 1976 and was a frequent entrant and winner in APW’s communications contest. She also served on the affiliate’s board for many years and contributed to NFPW’s 1989 conference in Arkansas. Cox was known for her writing, editing and photography skills and for her sparkling eyes, stylish clothes and laughter. Debbie Miller, a past president of APW, said, “She was an icon in journalism circles — the living embodiment of what it was to be a journalist and a professional woman.”

Colorado Press Women
Joan Vandiver Frisch, 85, died Feb. 10 in Boulder, Colorado. Frisch, who graduated from the University of Washington in 1961 with a degree in nutrition and journalism, had been a 55-year member of NFPW during her award-winning career in journalism and writing. She had worked for three years as the food editor for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and then as a science writer after moving to Boulder in 1970. From 1981 through 1995, Frisch was manager of media relations with the National Center for Atmospheric Research. She served on the NFPW national conference committees when CPW hosted in 1983 and 2006. In addition to belonging to quilting groups, Frisch had a long association with the University of Colorado’s host family program for international students. 

Media Network Idaho
Annie Vivian Davis Rydalch
, 86, died July 19. A former president of the Media Network of Idaho, she had been an award-winning high school journalism teacher and later had a lengthy career with the Idaho National Lab, retiring in 2010. She had also been a civic leader, serving in the Idaho Legislature for nearly a dozen years, in various Republican Party activities and as a presidential-appointed board adviser to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Her work with the Fort Peck Indian Reservation led her to be inducted as an honorary member of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribe of Montana.

Kansas Professional Communicators
Debbi Elmore
, 70, of Wichita, died Sept. 15. After earning a public relations and journalism degree from Wichita State University, Elmore spent her entire career telling other people’s stories. She met her husband, Jim, of 44 years at a small newspaper in Independence, Kansas, where she worked as a reporter and he was a photographer. Over the course of her career, she won several awards, including a 2022 honorable mention from NFPW for her story about the expanding curbside food donation boxes effort started by a young Wichita boy. Elmore also worked in health care and senior services.

Missouri Professional Communicators
Susan Fadem,
73, died Sept. 3 after a yearlong battle with stage four melanoma. An award-winning author, veteran journalist, movie facilitator and jewelry designer with a smile likened to Mary Tyler Moore, Fadem was often described as being curious and colorful and having a vibrant energy. In 2021, Fadem presented a program about “Her Self,” a book she co-authored, and its accompanying exhibit of 57 portraits of women ages 63 to 105 at the St. Louis Artists’ Guild. She’d been a reporter for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and the St. Louis Sun and editor for Ladue News and St. Louis Homes & Lifestyles. She met her first husband, Rod Fadem, when she interviewed him for a story. After his death, she married Richard Andersen, who also preceded her in death. Her daughter, Kimmie Fadem Donlon, is a member of Oregon Press Women.

North Dakota Professional Communicators
Ellen L. Crawford, 67, died Feb. 27. Crawford’s love of writing spanned an entire lifetime, starting with fiction writing in grade school. After earning degrees in mass communication and journalism from Minot State University and Minnesota State University-Moorhead, Crawford worked for 26½ years as a reporter, copy editor and page designer for The Forum in Fargo and 17 years as an information specialist for North Dakota State University Agriculture Communication before retiring in 2022. Crawford’s work was recognized with numerous state and national awards from the North Dakota Newspaper Association, NDPC and NFPW. In 1997 and 2012, she was named NDPC’s Communicator of Achievement. She had also served on the NFPW board as treasurer and second vice president. 

Woman’s Press Club of Indiana
Marion Garmel
, 86, died Oct. 22. Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Garmel started her career as a journalist and editor with her high school newspaper, The Tatler. She graduated with honors from the University of Texas in 1958 and began a career as the public relations liaison for the National Student Association. After a brief stint living in Paris, she returned to the U.S. to work for the Wall Street Journal. In 1961, she became an arts reporter and theater critic — and the first female staff writer —for The National Observer, a Dow-Jones newspaper, in the Washington, D.C., area. She moved to Indianapolis in 1970, when her husband, Raymond, took an urban planning job there. She continued her work as an award-winning newspaper reporter, critic and community volunteer.

Joline Nelson Moore Ohmart, 94, of Indianapolis, died Oct. 30 following complications from a fall. After graduating with a journalism degree from Kansas State University, Ohmart spent five years in radio, first at a station in her hometown of Hutchinson, Kansas, and then in Dallas. She engaged in various business ventures and moved to Indianapolis in 1967, where she became a bank executive. She eventually became involved in real estate. She held several patents and was an aspiring author, with two books close to being published. One was on parenting and the other was based on her life and experiences of the glass ceiling in business.