Fellow Montana publisher and friend to the Fairfield Sun Times Janet F. Guptill suffered a stroke on April 30, according to a story in the May 15 edition of The Jordan Tribune. The Tribune is located in the county seat for Garfield County.
According to the Tribune story, the editor and publisher of the Jordan newspaper and Tradewind Shopper was in Holy Rosary Healthcare in Miles City at that time.
The Tribune reported that Janet had a clot in the “speech-cognitive-reasoning area of the brain, which has impaired her speech and reasoning skills. She has good mobility, strength and motor skills.
At this time the future of the two publications are in the air. Please bear with us as we try to care for her and pray for her recovery. Thank you for your past support and we sincerely hope that is is possible that we can continue to serve you by some means in the future, whether by passing the torch for someone else to continue, or by the grace and blessing of God, she recovers enough to return to work, though we seriously doubt that will happen.
Please include Janet in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you again, the family of Janet Guptill, her sons, and their wives and family, Stuart and Renee, Scott and Aubrey, and Grant and Cheryl.”
Janet is 86 years old.
I came in contact with Janet through a freak storm back in 2009. I had gotten a bit stir crazy, so I took off on a Thursday morning on my Harley, headed for Scobey, since it appeared to be one of the farthest corners of Montana. From Scobey, I headed south to Miles City, then I headed east, coming into Jordan. I was pushing for Lewistown, where I had planned to spend the night.
At the time, there were some fires in the region, and as I pulled into the 4-way stop in Jordan, a hard wind, thick with smoke, blew a patio couch across the road in front of me.
I decided to spend the night in Jordan.
The next morning, I rode around Jordan, checking out the town. And just around the corner from the motel was the offices of The Jordan Tribune.
No one was in the office, but when I got back to Fairfield, I found Janet’s contact info and sent her an email. Soon, we were swapping newspapers. I always looked forward to my weekly news from Jordan.
Even though I would return to Jordan and the Cat Creek area fairly often for stories about the Cat Creek Oil Field and for other stories and photos, I never had the chance to meet Janet in person. I was always in town on weekends, and felt reluctant to bother her on her day off.
Still, we chatted on the phone a few times a year, and spoke of working on some grand stories. In particular, a story on the POW camps that sprang up across the state during WWII.
Janet knows the history of the region. Even more important, she knows the people of her community and cares for them deeply.
The Sun Times spoke with one of Janet’s colleagues who told us that Janet is now at the Garfield County Health Center. We later spoke with Janet’s son, Grant, who has helped with the layout and design for Janet’s two publication from his home in Missouri.
In the May 15 Tribune, Janet’s son Scott wrote of his mom and the Tribune in an editorial titled “End of an Era.”
The editorial, in part, reads:
Janet F. Guptill started in the newspaper business in July 1970 with the Jordan Tribune under editor/owner Aubrey Larson. She went on to start the “411” magazine for Mid-Rivers Telephone Co-operative as its editor. She then went on to run the Prairie Breeze Shopper with Aubrey Larson from 1982-1984. Later, she began the Tradewind Shopper as owner/publisher/editor. In August of 1990, with the outbreak of war in Iraq, she started Garfield County’s very own “Local Paper.” At a later date, she purchased the name of the Jordan Tribune from the Larsons. She owned the Tribune until her stroke.
Fifty years of news.
Mom always considered herself a news reporter. She believed if she told the story straight with all the facts available that you, as a reader, would be able to come to an informed opinion and/or decision. She never bought into the journalism idea that if a story couldn’t be told to advance your own agenda, it shouldn’t be told; or that you, the citizens, were too ignorant to be trusted with the truth.
Often issues would come up that were seen by her as an injustice, or just wrong-headed. She did not back down for much. Often, solving someone’s anger was as simple as asking if this was a hill they were willing to die on.
Some issues were deemed to divisive to the community to be printed, and she would let the issues go in silence.
She often told me that the times that she did not make the community tighter and stronger were her biggest failures as an editor.
She was often disgusted with “mainstream media’s” lack of neutrality and their laziness when it came to politics.
She tried, gave it her best. What more can one say or ask from one doing their job”
Our prayers to Janet, her family, and her community.
For those, who would like to send a card to Janet, address it to Janet Guptill, c/o Garfield County Health Center, 332 Leavitt Ave., Jordan, MT 59337