Betty Brown Jagnow, pioneer editor of Vindicator, president of WFMJ TV, dies at 92 1929 – 2022 | News, Sports, Jobs


CANFIELD — Betty Brown Jagnow blazed a trail as one of the few women in America to be the publisher of a major family daily newspaper while also serving as president of one of the top 100 television stations in the market, 21 WFMJ.

Betty JH Brown Jagnow, of Canfield, former publisher of The Vindicator and president of The Vindicator Printing Company in Youngstown for nearly four decades, died at her home on Friday February 4, 2022, aged 92. She successfully battled coronavirus and pneumonia in both lungs last November, but the battle left her so debilitated that, combined with her congestive heart failure, she had been bedridden since November 10.

Ms. Brown Jagnow was the glue that held The Vindicator family together during her 38 years at the helm of one of Ohio’s leading newspapers until it closed on August 31, 2019. Through good times and bad, she was the personification of stability in an increasingly unstable industry. . On September 1, 2019, the Tribune Chronicle began publication of its Vindicator edition filling the void left by the closure of the Maag/Brown family newspaper.

Mrs. Brown Jagnow and her son, Mark Brown, took over the reins of The Vindicator, WFMJ TV21 and The WFMJ Broadcasting Company (the radio station’s former owner at 1:90 p.m.) in 1981 following the death of publisher William J. Brown, her husband and father. She had been an officer and director of each of the companies since 1973. The family heritage of community service and The Vindicator’s role as a private and public sector watchdog were fully embraced. The newspaper celebrated its 150th anniversary in June 2019.

Over the years, Ms. Brown Jagnow has served as President of WFMJ Television, Inc., The WFMJ Broadcasting Company, Consumer Communication Services, Inc. and CBOSS, Inc.

A petite woman with a spine of steel, affectionately known as “Mrs. J” by her Vindicator family, Betty Brown Jagnow loved recounting how she joined the newspaper staff at the age of 18. At the time, she worked for General Fireproofing and also volunteered as a secretary at her church office, Pilgrim Collegiate.

“One day my minister (Dr. Roland Luhman) picked me up from General Fireproofing and instead of driving me to church, he drove me downtown. I asked him where we were going, and he told me he had set up an interview for me with The Vindicator. I was so angry that I didn’t shut up. I told him I didn’t want to work at The Vindicator, but he replied in a calm voice, “I want you to be with people I trust.” I can be talkative, as you know, and I was mad at him!

Dr. Luhman was convinced that once Betty started working at the newspaper, she would find a home there, and she did so for the next 71 years. Like her, many seasoned staff members began and ended their careers at one of the most important institutions in the Mahoning Valley and in the state of Ohio.

Mrs. Brown Jagnow laughed as she remembered starting work for The Vindicator on April Fool’s Day 1948.

Reminiscing with an old friend, Bertram de Souza, about her more than seven decades at the Vindicator, she said, “I never regretted a single day at the paper. I looked forward to going to work every day. Not everyone can say that. I have been blessed. I met wonderful people. My pastor was right.

Betty Brown Jagnew blazed a trail as one of the few women in America to be the editor of a major family daily. She had a dry sense of humor and, if necessary, could silence even the most belligerent individual with a biting remark. She was thrilled that the employees ran on foot down the hallway of the production building and beat them up. His 98-pound body helped. She continued running until the early 80s.

She told people that she was born during the Great Depression and was therefore frugal. His written instructions for his funeral to his son include these two sentences. “I want a cheap coffin – don’t waste the money (I’ll come back to haunt you if you do). Same for the safe. On a 1979 buying trip to the National Home Equipment Show newspapers in Las Vegas, against her better judgment, she was convinced to play a slot machine. A nickel machine took her $2 worth of nickels. For the next two decades, she continued to complain of having ” wasted” those 2 bucks.

Although not a journalist by profession, she had a deep and abiding respect for those who worked every day to make The Youngstown Vindicator the award-winning newspaper it has been for many decades.

Former Vindicator editorial page editor and columnist Bertram de Souza reflected on his decades of work with Ms Brown Jagnow, saying: “As a journalist dedicated to holding the powerful and influential accountable, I have found comfort and confidence in the fact that Mrs. J. my back. Although she was my boss, she was also my friend. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Cynthia Rickard, who held various positions from the department of society to regional editor of the newspaper from 1978 to 2019, said: “She was Katharine Graham of Youngstown (editor of the Washington Post from 1963 to 1991), a pioneer in a forest media of men, and whether they realize it or not, a model for all the young women who have worked for her. We saw it and never thought we couldn’t have a seat at the leadership table of any of life’s pursuits. She and I shared German heritage and often joked about our innate stubbornness and inability to give up — traits that helped stabilize The Vindicator and everyone who worked for her on many rough seas. An “Iron Lady”.

Former Vindicator Society editor Barb Shaffer said: “Although Betty was on the paper when I started there in 1973, it wasn’t until 1981 when William Brown, then editor and husband of Betty, passed away that I really got to know her. It was then that the whole operation of The Vindicator welcomed Betty into the publishing world as one of the very few female editors at that time, let alone women with the level of success she achieved. . Her determination provided the best example for the small group of women in her newsroom charged with the enormous task of printing a daily.

Mrs. Brown Jagnow was born and raised on the West Side of Youngstown, graduated from Chaney High School and attended Youngstown College, now Youngstown State University.

She was a very private person and never liked to be the center of attention, yet the Valley benefited from all of her efforts.

From 1983 to 2002, she was a trustee of the Ohio Newspaper Association. She also served from 1994 to 1999 on the Ohio Coalition for Open Government, an organization that monitors government and works to protect public access to government records, meetings, agencies, and the justice system.

She had many professional associations, as a director of Dollar Savings & Trust Co., which later became part of National City Bank, and was the first woman on its board from 1982. She also served on the Board of Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber. During her tenure, the Chamber and The Vindicator began their co-sponsorship of the Athena Awards, which recognize women’s contributions to the Mahoning Valley. She served on the Women’s Council of the former Youngstown Hospital Association.

She has done extensive service to the community for many years as a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of Angels for Animals, the pet advocacy organization, and the Board of Directors of the Reuben McMillan Free Library Association. She also served as vice president of the Kidney Foundation of Ohio, which serves 32 counties in northern and eastern Ohio.

His social activities were extensive, including his membership in the Garden Club of Youngstown, the New Century Club, the Youngstown Country Club, and the old Youngstown Club. She was a board member of the YWCA, served on the board of the former Florence Crittenton Home and the former Youngstown Fresh Air Camp, and was a member of the Faith Community Covenant Church, which succeeded at the Pilgrim Collegiate Church.

“Grandma Betty” loved spending time and going to a hibachi restaurant with her grandchildren. When they were young, she would visit them on Saturday or Sunday mornings to play with them. She enjoyed talking about them and their accomplishments with her closest friends at work. She ended her letter of funeral instructions with: “Take good care of Catherine and William. They have given me so much joy and fulfillment and I love them very much.

She was also very fond of several cats she had over the years and her grandchildren’s first dog, Buddy Troubles Brown, a border collie.

The former Betty Johanna Heinrich was born on November 28, 1929 and was the daughter of the late Emil and Johanna Heinrich. She married publisher William J. Brown on April 15, 1972. After his death on August 14, 1981, she assumed the title of publisher. She then married Paul C. Jagnow, the newspaper’s editor, in March 1986. Jagnow predeceased her on September 20, 2017.

Besides her son Mark, she is survived by two grandchildren, William W. Brown of New York and Catherine J. Brown of Estero, Fla.; one sister, Emilie Foreman of Houston; and two nephews, Walter “Skipper” (Jodi) Foreman of Houston and Jeffrey (Aysim) Foreman of Dallas (at whose wedding Betty, at 63, got up on a table and danced).

She was also predeceased by a brother, Walter Heinrich, and her favorite brother-in-law, Walter “Skip” Foreman.

In recent years, Betty was accompanied every day by caregivers. The family thanks Kathy, Bev, Courtney, Heather, Karen, Tiffany, TaSade, Dawney, Nicolette, Nichole and Paula for not only providing exceptional care to Grandma Betty, but for being part of her family. Betty has also enjoyed the almost daily visits for the past 5 weeks by Louie Free who always put a smile on her face.

It was Betty’s wish that all memorial donations be sent to Angels for Animals, 4750 West South Range Road, Canfield, OH 44406.

Out of respect for the health and safety of others, services will be private.

Interment will be in the Brown family plot at Oak Hill Cemetery.

Arrangements have been entrusted to The Shriver-Allison-Courtley-Weller-King Funeral Home. Friends and family can view this obituary and share memories and condolences at www.shriverallisoncourtley

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