Friends and colleagues of Ruth Kelly, the president of Venture Publishing Inc. are reportedly gathering this afternoon in Edmonton to mark the passing of this dynamic woman. She was one of the best people in the magazine business and gave generously of herself both through Magazines Canada and the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association. In 2013, AMPA awarded her the Lifetime Achievement Awards in Publishing.
According to a story in the Edmonton Journal, she died of suicide at the age of 60.The last time I spoke with Ruth was at the Business Media Summit in King City in February and the subject was not magazines, but barbecues and wood smokers, about which I know little or nothing (she, on the other hand, was a foodie of the first rank). Other times, she and I tangled (disagreed) about more magazine-related issues. She was a woman of strong, and generally well-earned, opinions and her views reflected years of striving, leadership and learning about the business. Among the many things that friends have said about her was what a generous mentor she was.
"In the last few years, Venture Publishing struggled," said the Journal story by Liane Faulder, "and Kelly along with it. In November 2016, the Canadian Media Guild sent a demand letter to Kelly, asking that 13 contractors be paid nearly $40,000 they were owed. Max Fawcett, former managing editor of Alberta Venture and former editor of Alberta Oil, said things at the magazine were “difficult.”
"He said Kelly paid top dollar for Alberta Oil in 2008 but the recession, followed by the collapse of the price of oil in 2015, took a toll. Fawcett, who left Venture in 2015 for another magazine, said Kelly could be “incredibly intimidating because she was so smart, and so in command of what she was doing.” "