Ron Ennis, Managing Editor with Transcontinental Media's 14 weekly newspapers in the province for over 20 years, and a journalist for 42 years, passed away in Grand Falls-Windsor.
Known for his dedication to the writing craft, the respect for the role of the community newspaper and his practice of helping budding journalists get their feet wet in the industry, Ennis is being remembered for his contributions.
He was a man who gave back to his community through service on town councils, the Kiwanis Club — in particular the annual music festival in Grand Falls-Windsor — and his church.
A proud family man — he and his wife, Delores, raised five children together, all of whom went on to their own careers after university.
Family and friends will honour his life Friday with an 11 a.m. funeral mass from Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Grand Falls-Windsor.
Visitations are at Central Funeral Homes, Grand Falls-Windsor, Wed., Aug. 10, 7-9 p.m. and Thur., Aug. 11 from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m..
Inurnment will take place Saturday afternoon. The exact time will be determined. Check www.centralfuneralhomes.ca for final details.
Walwyn Blackmore, former mayor, had many opportunities to interact with Ennis during his 28 years in municipal government, both with the former town of Windsor and the amalgamated towns of Grand Falls-Windsor.
“I would consider Ron to have been the epitome of fairness,” Blackmore told TC Media Tuesday as he reflected on his dealings with him as editor of the Advertiser. “I never felt any bias at all from him in presenting editorials and both sides of a story. He always appeared to me to be fair and above board with presenting both sides of a story.”
Blackmore recalls, as well, many shared conversations with Ennis on the role of his beloved community newspapers.
“I heard him say so often that there was a time when the job of the community newspaper was really promoting the community they were in,” Blackmore said. “I would say he kept the community in community newspapers.”
Many would agree, including Troy Turner, current managing editor with the Western Star.
Ron Ennis has left a legacy of community journalism this province has never witnessed. Or ever will,” Turner said.
“Those aren't words thrown to catch the wind of this devastating loss of a great man — this statement is true, in its pure, unaltered form.
“His parting gift to us, the people of the province, was in showing that your community mattered, and holding that mirror up to the people of each town and village, even if the reflection was less than desirable,” Turner added.
The effect of his career was felt closest to home, but wasn’t lost on the industry nationwide.
In 2010 he was honoured with the Atlantic Journalism Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
The nomination noted: “His career spans 42 years of dedication to community journalism in Atlantic Canada. He moved from proof-reader to reporter to editor and managing editor of a portfolio of 17 community newspapers in Newfoundland, first with the Robinson-Blackmore chain and, lastly, with Transcontinental Media. He managed weekly circulation exceeding 100,000 copies with community news and information, which was and still is the gospel of rural Newfoundland.”
Ron Ennis set an honourable example, and left a tremendous legacy, says Barbara Dean-Simmons, managing editor of the NL weeklies for TC Media.
She says in the years that she worked with Ennis, and grew to know him as a journalist, a mentor and, simply, a human being, he set the example for honour, integrity, compassion and caring.
“As I reflect on the conversations with Ron at editorial conferences, over a working lunch or on the telephone I recall a man of principal, deeply committed to ensuring the story — and the truth — be told.
“Even stronger than his commitment to the story, was his commitment to his team — the people he worked with daily, and the young journalists he guided along the way.
“No matter what,” recalls Dean-Simmons, “regardless of the occasions when Ron might have had to take one of us to task for a sometimes less-than-stellar piece of work, he was our champion when we needed his support and he applauded when we attained success.
“On a particular occasion, when the paper I was writing for was delving into a very contentious local issue — and some local leaders had run to Ron to complain about the stories — Ron assessed the situation, and gave me this piece of advice, which is locked in my memory: “Be fair, and dig in your heels.”
As the news came of his passing Monday night, countless journalists he had hired and trained chimed in with recollections of the “mentor and father-figure.”
A collection of those thoughts and other reflections on Ron’s career and character can be found on The Advertisers' Editorial page and Op-Ed page today.
Perhaps the words of Kathy Dicks-Peyton, one of those young reporters, sums up the thoughts of those whose lives and careers were influenced by the “motivator and friend”: “Final proofreading and edits complete, may you rest in peace.”