Lynda Jensen, 42, of Dassel, editor of the Herald Journal and Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch, passed away Tuesday evening, June 15 at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) in Minneapolis.
Monday morning, June 14, she was taken by ambulance from her home to Hutchinson Community Hospital with stroke-like symptoms.
With other complications, the potential of a blood clot and hemorrhaging in her brain, Lynda opted for a risky but necessary procedure to relieve the pressure on her brain and stop the hemorrhaging.
At that time, she was immediately airlifted to HCMC. With bleeding deeper into her brain, the procedure was not successful.
Family members said that doctors later determined that an accidental fall at home a couple weeks earlier apparently led to a tear in the artery of Lynda’s c-spine, resulting in bleeding in her brain and intracranial pressure. Due to the specific location of the bleeding, her condition was inoperable.
She passed away peacefully Tuesday, surrounded by family members and loved ones.
Her immediate family members are husband Brian, and children Latrice, 18; Bryce, 14; and Brianna, 5.
A graduate of St. Cloud State University, Lynda worked for a public relations firm in Minneapolis, and newspapers in Watertown, SD, and Gary, SD, before coming to this area in April 1998.
She was involved in many changes in the local newspaper business since then.
Lynda was working at the Enterprise Dispatch as a graphic designer and reporter when she was hired to be editor of the Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal in September 2000.
The current ownership of Herald Journal took over in late 2001, and she was named editor of two newspapers originally the Howard Lake Herald and Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, both which underwent a series of name changes as additional communities were added to the coverage. In 2004, those papers were merged to become today’s Herald Journal, with Lynda in charge of all the news coverage.
In October 2004, with Lynda eight months pregnant, husband Brian, a National Guard member, was called to leave for an 18-month deployment to Iraq.
In November 2004, their third child, Brianna, was born at the Buffalo hospital, and three days later, the family was able to unite via videoconference.
During Brian’s deployment, the opportunity arose for Herald Journal to purchase the Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch in July 2005.
With Lynda’s strong connections to the D-C community, she took on an even greater role, serving as editor for both newspapers.
She held both those positions since then, through numerous weekly deadlines, special sections, and the constantly evolving area of electronic communication.
During her editorship, the newspapers consistently won awards in the annual state newspaper contests, both individually and in general categories.
Her individual honors included virtually all aspects of newspaper work: news and feature writing, photography, headlines, and advertising.
Perhaps her most significant award was for “Explanation of Newspaper Operations or Newspaper Ethics.” It was for Lynda’s work covering the 2006 McLeod County sheriff’s election.
First, she revised the viewpoints pages over the weekend to allow one candidate the opportunity to respond to a last-minute attack by the other just before the election. She also wrote a personal column, blasting the candidate for his actions.
The next week, she followed up with a column about how all six newspapers in the county handled the tricky ethical situation.
This award was particularly notable because it was chosen from among all newspapers in the state, regardless of circulation size.
Lynda was especially adept at writing tribute stories about prominent people in the community who passed away. Even if she didn’t know them personally, she was able to capture their stories and personalities through interviews with relatives and friends.
We may not be able to match her talent at tribute writing, so instead, we offer these recollections from our staff members who worked with her over the past several years:
When was it she became so special?
By Linda Scherer, Staff Writer
Tuesday I lost a dear friend.
How is it possible to work with someone every day and never have any idea what that person means to you until it’s too late?
My heart feels broken every time I realize my boss and the editor of the Herald Journal, Lynda Jensen, will never pop her head out of her office again and say to me, “Hey, are you busy?”
I have tried to look back over the last four years that we have worked together to try and discover when she had become so special to me.
Was it the evening that we stumbled down in the dark to the Winsted Lake shore with a camera, tri-pod, and Lynda’s youngest daughter, Brianna, to get a picture of the lights across the lake on the new Winsted lakefront promenade?
Was it that silly poster that greets me every morning with the laughing cow and a silly quote she made and hung in my office cube?
Or was it that last minute article that needed to be written and she knew I was too tired, so she, just as tired, volunteered to do it for me?
She was always there to defend me when I was in trouble like any mother defending her young; she continually acknowledged my worth, and pointed out and corrected my journalistic errors. We have worked together, laughed together, and cried together.
But this time I am crying alone because I have lost my dear friend.
A lasting prayer
By Kristen Miller, Staff Writer
The night before I was to write this tribute, I was lying in bed thinking about Lynda and what exactly I should say about her. Then, it hit me.
It was the afternoon before Winstock (Thursday, June 10). I was in Winsted finishing up my end-of-the-week work. I took off Friday to enjoy Winstock to its fullest!
I was almost done with my work, when I noticed Lynda leaving. She shut her light off in her office and said good-bye.
At first, I thought how odd it was that she was leaving before 5 p.m., and before me.
I didn’t think much of it. As an editor, she likely had someplace to be or someone to interview. Now, when I think about it, she probably wasn’t feeling good.
Anyway, it was time for me to upload a picture to the website. I had just finished writing a tribute to Duane Benoit how ironic I would be writing another a week later, and one about my editor, nonetheless.
I wasn’t able to upload the photo on my computer, so I decided to use Lynda’s computer.
That’s when I noticed taped on her computer a prayer.
It read: “Dear God, Help me today to make you look good and to make you known. Amen.”
At the time, I thought this was enduring and something Christians don’t remember often enough. What a perfect prayer, right?
That brings me to Tuesday.
Upon hearing the news, a couple of us writers went to see her at HCMC.
It was really difficult, but I am so glad I was there.
Driving home, I remembered that poem.
When I got back to the Winsted office, I went into her room and made a copy of that prayer.
Now, it’s taped to my computer.
Lynda wore her faith on her sleeve, that’s for sure.
I remember a few times when in affirmation I said, “I swear to God,” and she responded, “Oh, don’t do that!”
Lynda taught me a lot in these five years at HJ, but I will always remember the last thing she taught me . . . to be a good Christian.
A source of encouragement
By Starrla Cray, Staff Writer
My heart is heavy today, as I struggle to work amidst the deafening silence coming from Lynda Jensen’s office.
I keep expecting her to come bounding into the room, notebook and camera in hand, and a note of excitement in her voice.
“Good morning!” she would say, ready to face the workload ahead with joy.
I can’t help but think that she must be at a special meeting, or taking pictures of a school event, or on some other newsworthy venture.
It must be my mind’s way of rationalizing why she isn’t here right now.
How can someone so full of life, love, and laughter be taken so suddenly?
Lynda was the kind of person who seemed able to withstand anything. She worked hard, gave generously, and loved deeply.
She inspired me to be a better person. Many times, I’d leave work for the day thinking about how I could be more like her.
She continuously showed kindness in little ways whether it was giving us chocolates or taking the time to patiently teach us how to put pictures or videos up on the Herald Journal blog site.
Lynda was the editor of two newspapers, but she never was too busy to help. Every time I would appear at her office door, she would drop what she was doing and give me her full attention. My questions were never very important, but she made me feel like I mattered.
I hadn’t realized how close I felt to her until this week. She was more than a co-worker or boss she was my friend.
Lynda was about 18 years older than me, but in some ways, I felt like we were the same age. Her energy level was unmatched, and she was always saying crazy things that made me laugh.
Work will never be the same without her. She was my source of encouragement, and a light and happy presence in my life.
Days when she was on vacation were hard enough. It’s painful to imagine going through the rest of this life without her.
Lynda was a reflection of God’s love, and her memory will forever be in my heart.
I pray that Lynda’s family and loved ones will be comforted by God’s presence, as they mourn the loss of a wonderful wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.
Enthusiasm which was difficult to ignore
By Ivan Raconteur, Staff Writer
Like many of her colleagues in the community newspaper business, Lynda Jensen loved her job.
She was always among the last to leave the office on Fridays (when the paper goes to press). She couldn’t resist the urge to tear apart perfectly good news pages to wedge in one last tidbit that came through her e-mail, or find a home for one more photo.
She took the “community” in community newspaper seriously, and she seemed to know practically everyone in our coverage area.
Lynda had compassion, and never lost sight of the fact that there are real people behind the names in the news.
Some might have described Lynda as a scrapper. Others would say she was just passionate about her work. She had no qualms whatsoever about charging into the publisher’s office to vociferously defend her point of view, much to the delight of her co-workers.
Lynda had a warmth about her, and an almost childlike enthusiasm which was difficult to ignore. If she liked something, there was never any doubt about it. To say she wore her heart on her sleeve would be understating the facts.
It would be impossible to put out a newspaper without teamwork, and those of us who worked with Lynda will miss having her on our team.
By Ryan Gueningsman, Delano HJ Editor
I am writing this article like many I’ve written for Lynda Jensen over the last 10 years after deadline.
I don’t think she would have wanted it any other way. Of course, like any story any of us produce, we want it to paint the picture accurately and have the story turn out just right.
It has been a struggle to find a way to paint that picture just right I’m not sure it has fully sunk in that we’ll never see Lynda around our office again.
Right now, it is a Friday morning on newspaper layout day. I’ve beaten Lynda to the office by several minutes and am waiting for my computer to boot up.
Any second now, she is going to walk around the corner, sit down at her chair, and start typing away or making calls.
I’ll walk into her office and catch up on the latest happenings of the week and find out if there is anything I need to know.
Having worked in the Delano office the last four years, I am not in Winsted as frequently as I once was, but Fridays are still our production days where we all come together and get our three newspapers out the door every week.
The conversations, though about different issues or people, were very similar week to week.
“Been swamped this week and still have to write the story for the city council meeting.”
“Chris had this great story idea and now 15 phone calls later, I don’t have it written yet.”
“Dale and I went back-and-forth about . . .”
Or, I would simply walk in, steal a piece of her infamous chocolate she always seemed to have in her office, and we’d both set to the task of getting our newspapers to press.
The best tribute of Lynda I’ve read was written by former staff writer Caroline Wigmore (on today’s viewpoints page). I could not have painted a better picture of Lynda Jensen.
One of our co-workers jokingly would say about Lynda that she could “say in 100 words what most could say in 10.” She certainly had the gift of gab a necessary gift in our field. With that, I am going to share my 100 words about Lynda:
When Lynda was hired at the newspaper, I was a know-it-all kid working at the paper part time while still in high school.
Darkroom photo processing, shooting with film, and pasting up pages by hand all seemed cool.
Weekend events, technology changes by the minute, and watching her family grow, Lynda taught me more than most will ever know.
From passion and priorities, to technique and style, Lynda found a way to share it all.
Little words that are never said enough, I am glad I had the chance to say before she passed away: “Thank you, Lynda.”
By Cheri Luhman, Customer Service
One of my fondest memories of Lynda is how she always called me CheriLynn, which is what my mother’s family has always called me . . . it made me think of home and smile.
Lynda was also a very faithful Christian and we often talked of our passion of witnessing and striving to be Christ-like.
Her very last e-mail that she sent to me was a quick comment on my Friday staff meeting doodling of the words “Fear Not” she said the words were encouraging and thanked me.
At the time, I thought it was nice that she took the time to mention that she noticed and that she was touched by it, but I didn’t know why I had even written down the words. I now believe the words I doodled were for her benefit all along, and her e-mail was confirmation that she received His message.
This life is not the end, Lynda has been called home, and there is comfort in the faith that I will see her again someday.
I will miss you, Lynda
Memories will last
By Alicia Boltz, Creative Dept.
The three years I worked with Lynda seems so short now but the memories will last forever.
I know I will see her again someday because she was a fellow Christian, a follower of Christ, and John 3:16 states “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Someone who would always help
By Aaron Schultz, Sports Editor
I’ve known Lynda for over 10 years, since back when I first started at the Enterprise Dispatch, when it was owned by Dan and Carolyn Holje.
Lynda worked in production at that time, while I was just out of college and newly hired as the sports editor and sales person.
Shortly after I started, Lynda made the move to the Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, and after a couple of years I joined her there. Over all that time, Lynda was always someone I could count on to help me out with anything I needed, and had a ton of patience with me through that time.
Lynda was truly one of the kindest people I have ever worked with or known. It is impossible to put into words how much she will be missed.
By Dori Kimball, Sales/Marketing
When you get your first “real” job after college, many things change in your life quickly.
Lynda was excited for every milestone and achievement, and was often the first person to send well wishes. She was the kind of person who felt joy for others and shared their excitement with a smile and twinkle in her eye.
Meeting Lynda with a ‘y’
By Denise Ernst, Creative Dept.
I met Lynda Jensen about five and one-half years ago, when I started working at that Herald Journal in Winsted. She was out on maternity leave with Brianna when I was hired.
When she returned to work, she made a point of kneeling down by my chair, looking me in the eye, touching my shoulder, and welcoming me to the office.
What a sweet lady.
A few months later, after a little rearranging in the office, I wound up in the cubicle right outside her office.
Periodically, she would pop into work on her day off and bring Brianna with her. Brianna would crawl out of her office, up into my lap, and play with stuff on my desk.
What a cutie pie.
A few months later, after a little rearranging in the office (again), I was moved across the room from Lynda’s office. She would bring me work to do and always had a kind word to say about the person that submitted the item, or a funny anecdote about them.
She knew everybody.
Nearly every Thursday (deadline for the newspaper), Lynda would call with some late item and promise me chocolate for typesetting it for her.
She had the best chocolate.
I spelled her name wrong . . . once . . . I will miss that Lynda with a y.
A tribute to Lynda
By Jenni Sebora, Correspondent
Lynda was a woman of strong beliefs, values, morals, and faith. One could glean this about her through her writings, conversations with her, and mainly through her actions. I will always remember this about her.
She was dedicated and devoted to her work and held her position as editor with great seriousness, dignity, and esteem. Lynda was very intelligent, extremely efficient, very precise, and true to her word.
To Lynda: you will be missed. Your intelligence, dedication, values, and staunch faith will always be respected.
Dedication to her profession
By Wendy Lankki, Creative Dept.
Remembering Lynda, I am struck by her dedication to her profession.
Lynda really cared about our communities, and she took her responsibility to present the news accurately, completely, and in a timely manner in our newspapers very seriously. She worked hard, and was always willing to go the extra mile to get the story, cover an event, and enable everyone to have a voice.
Lynda brought energy and enthusiasm to our newspaper offices, and those of us who were privileged to have had the opportunity to work with her, will truly miss her.
Promises, commitments, the official record, and someone you could depend on
By Chris Schultz, Publisher
I knew Lynda for 10 years.
At Herald Journal, we grew together, we shared, we argued, we failed, we succeeded, and we made all kinds of news coverage promises.
I made them all over the communities we served many promises that I shouldn’t have made, and many of them well after deadline. But with skill, professionalism, plain old hard work, and according to Lynda, never enough staff, she kept them. Every single one of them.
She always argued we never had a large enough editorial staff to meet my expectations, and once told me that if we owned the Star Tribune, I would want to start covering Chicago.
She was a woman of her word and the promises she made, she kept.
In today’s world, commitment isn’t something to be taken lightly because there simply isn’t enough of it.
To her faith, family, church, community, profession, co-workers, and company, she was as committed as anyone could be.
A couple years ago, immediately after the tragic death of a student in the communities we serve, she spent 23 straight hours, many of them with her kids in the office, editing and posting hundreds of reader responses on our website. Much to Lynda’s demand for accurate, fair, appropriate, and credible journalism, our company does not allow unedited posts to appear on our websites.
Although she had a passion for new and social media, she understood and rivaled in the role of a community newspaper, knowing we are not Facebook or Myspace and need to respect the people and readers we serve. To this day, not one word of foul language has ever appeared in our newspapers or on our website, Christmas is still Christmas, and the miraculous story of the resurrection runs on the front page of our Easter issues.
To our readers in print and online, which number approximately 17,185 on an average week: Lynda was committed to you, and every day, on the job or not, and with every deadline, felt you deserved no less.
The news portion of the newspaper business is serious, critical, and not without consequences to many, including those who work in it. We often refer to it as the official record.
To this day, in print and online, the most read portions of the news we report are obituaries, crimes, and accidents. The responsibility Lynda took in ensuring the credibility of the official record in the communities she served I had tremendous respect for.
Now in heaven with the Savior she believed so deeply in, she knows that thousands will be reading her obituary and that every name should be spelled correctly and every factual item reviewed diligently for accuracy.
The day Dale and I decided to give Lynda the opportunity to lead our entire editorial department, we told her the greatest challenge she would have to face and improve on would be the management of staff.
Lynda had never been in that role before, and at that time, it wasn’t too big a deal we had an editorial staff of two, including her. A short time and a few risky ideas later, that staff grew to as many as nine or more, with Lynda leading the way.
She could be volatile and had her struggles, just like any boss does, but she grew, people respected her, and she came into her own by becoming not just a good supervisor, but a significant community leader.
The quality of writing on this page alone is a statement to that.
With the above written and much more that could be, Lynda was someone, no matter the demands, conflict, or the consequences, that many others and I could always depend on.
Although she often thanked me for being supportive, fair in resolutions, and standing behind her when she needed it, I will always be thankful to her for being a person I, without thought, could believe and trust in always.
God gave us a tremendous gift. That gift is of time to love, to labor, and to prove our worth, merit, and faith. Lynda’s was far too short, but she proved them all and I’ll thank God with all the time I have left for the time in friendship and trust that He gave me with Lynda.
God bless her husband, Brian, and her children, Brianna, Bryce, and Latrice.
By Dale Kovar, General Manager
This woman loved her job and was dedicated to it to a fault.
Even Monday morning when we learned she had gone to the hospital by ambulance, we thought there’d be a chance she’d be back at work the next morning. We even talked about whether we should allow her back unless she had a doctor’s note, knowing she would want to be here.
Lynda would often go beyond expectations to make sure things were done well, or something extra was accomplished.
Just recently, one of her co-workers made up a framed special recognition certificate honoring her for “creating extra work for herself . . . through tireless dedication to ignoring the easy way of doing things . . .”
In its playful way, it acknowledged how we could count on her to follow through and take care of everything that needed taking care of, big or small.
Putting together the above story, I more deeply realized how much Lynda was a part of Herald Journal’s growth and success in the last few years.
Though Chris and I would make the final decisions, she was one of the key people who carried out the missions and got others to pull in the same direction.
We’ve gotten many compliments in the last few years on the amount of HJ’s news coverage, but it was Lynda and her department that deserves the credit.
As with any management situation, we occasionally had some “spirited discussions” about what should be done in certain circumstances.
I always greatly appreciated that Lynda and I could have a pretty serious disagreement about something, and then just a few minutes later on another topic, we’d be right back working together with no hurt feelings or grudges to mess it up.
Once in awhile, if she later felt the discussion was more spirited than it needed to be, a little bag of jerky would appear in my in-basket the next day.
Most of all, I admired Lynda’s willingness and ability to publicly express her faith in Jesus Christ.
Sometimes Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny get all the press, but with Lynda’s leadership we were able to cover religious topics in more meaningful ways and use our media privilege to spread the “good news” of salvation.
My last words to Lynda in the office were something about classifieds or website updates.
My last words to her at the hospital were “God will give you peace.”
Which she now has.