ELY— The Timberjay’s longtime Ely editor, Keith Vandervort, died suddenly at his home this past Friday, Aug. 26. The cause of death is unknown but was ruled due to natural causes. …
ELY— The Timberjay’s longtime Ely editor, Keith Vandervort, died suddenly at his home this past Friday, Aug. 26. The cause of death is unknown but was ruled due to natural causes.
Vandervort, who was 60, was an old-school journalist who worked hard to get the facts right and still typed the thousands of words of copy he produced each week with his two-finger “hunt-and-peck” method.
He’d become a fixture in Ely over the past decade, covering everything from city council meetings to dance recitals as he worked his craft of chronicling the community. He was an outstanding photographer and designed the Timberjay’s front page every week since his hiring, regularly helping the paper win awards for typography and design. He was set to mark his tenth full year as Ely editor of the Timberjay in just two weeks.
Vandervort was well-known for his sense of humor, especially his quick wit, and he was popular with those he covered as well as his co-workers. He was seemingly always ready with an atrocious pun, regularly breaking the tension of deadline day with a groaner or two.
Vandervort grew up and worked for most of his career in Wisconsin and bled green and gold like most of his fellow cheeseheads. He was raised in Fond du Lac and spent much of his career working for Gannett papers in northern Wisconsin and Michigan, mostly as a photographer and page designer. He and his wife Kay had previously visited Ely and were interested in making it their permanent residence, so when the Timberjay’s editor job opened up in 2012, Vandervort jumped at the opportunity.
“He was a great addition to our team,” said Timberjay Publisher Marshall Helmberger. He fit in well, worked incredibly hard and was, without a doubt, one of the most reliable employees we’ve ever had. His untimely death is a huge loss for his family and friends, as well as the newspaper.”