Catherine Stortz Ripley, who served as news editor of the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune for the last 26 years, has resigned her position effective Tuesday, July 3.
Catherine Stortz Ripley, who served as news editor of the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune for the last 26 years, has resigned her position effective Tuesday, July 3. Ripley made the announcement to C-T staff members Friday, June 8, thanking them for their support through the years and citing a desire to spend more time with her family. She has accepted an employment opportunity with a Chillicothe business and will remain in the community. Ripley was hired as news editor by former C-T publisher, Chuck Haney, in 1992. She previously had served as editor of the Marceline Press, a weekly publication, from 1989 until 1991. She then accepted the managing editor’s position at the Waynesville (Mo.) Daily Guide, a six-day-a-week sister publication in Pulaski County. During her time with the Constitution-Tribune, Ripley was a member of Missouri Society of Newspaper Editors, serving as president in 2009-2010, and Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, serving as president in 1999-2000. She also served as media coordinator for the Livingston County Circuit Court. Ripley received statewide awards for news writing, feature writing, and photography, and managed a newsroom and sports staff that received multiple awards throughout the years, including community service recognition. Ripley’s latest award will be presented this fall. Ripley has served on the Chillicothe Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Hedrick Medical Center Community Advisory Board, the Chillicothe Area Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors and the Home of Sliced Bread Committee. She said that she treasures the opportunities she has had in the newspaper business. “It has been an amazing and fulfilling journey,” she said. Highlights include interviewing a childhood friend of Walt Disney while in Marceline, compiling two Livingston County history books, and accompanying America’s heroes on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., to document their visit through photographs and stories. In 2006, Ripley wrote an investigative piece that exposed a military veteran who falsely claimed top medals during a Veterans Day speech in Chillicothe. That piece included an interview with Retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North and propelled support for the Stolen Valor Act which President George W. Bush signed into law later that year. Perhaps the most notable result of her investigative work was the discovery and verification that commercially-sliced bread was introduced to the world in Chillicothe in 1928. Her research led her to the son of the man who invented the bread-slicing machine and provided her with documentation confirming that the historic event took place in Chillicothe. “It has been so much fun to see the sliced bread story unfold and draw interest from throughout the world to our community,” Ripley said. This past legislative session, Ripley worked with Rep. Rusty Black and others in promoting a statewide designation of July 7th as Missouri Sliced Bread Day. Efforts will continue to pass the bill next year. Making the decision to bow out of the newspaper business after nearly 30 years was difficult. “I’ve met wonderful people throughout my career and I have learned much from them,” Ripley said. “I am blessed to have worked with an incredibly dedicated staff that has the community’s best interest at heart in all they do.” Among the long-time C-T employees are Connie Jones, office manager who has been with the newspaper since 1971; Jenetta Cranmer, circulation manager who has been with the newspaper since 1987; and Paul Sturm, who began as city editor in 1995 and became sports editor following the death of Bob Carter in 2001. Ripley and her husband, Steve, reside in Chillicothe with their children, Dalton, 15, and Claire, 14. The children have grown up in the newspaper business and, in recent months, have photographed events for the newspaper. “My family has been supportive and patient with my long hours and irregular work schedule,” Ripley said. “It’s time for a change that will allow me to spend more time with them.” They also have three grown children: Deryck and wife, Jade, and granddaughter, Elowen; Andrew and wife, Mary; and Stefani Anderson and husband, Clint, and grandchildren Brody and Bristol Anderson. Ripley will be joining Flexible Staffing of Chillicothe, serving as office manager. She plans to continue writing periodically for the Constitution-Tribune. “I want to thank the community for welcoming me in 1992 and for supporting me through the years,” Ripley said. “Chillicothe is a wonderful town and I feel honored, and humbled, to have helped record its history.” Jason Hunsicker, regional editor for Gatehouse Media, said efforts are being taken to fill the vacancy being created by Ripley’s departure.
The public is invited to a reception Friday, June 29, honoring Ripley for her 26 years of service as news editor. The reception will be from 3 until 5 p.m. at the C-T business office, 818 Washington Street.