Grainews founder John Clark, 81

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John Clark, a well-known Prairie farm journalist and founding editor of Grainews, died Jan. 18 at age 81 following a short battle with cancer.

Clark, who passed away at Winnipeg’s Concordia Hospital, was born in Regina and spent much of his early life in Kamsack, Sask. He received a master’s degree in plant science at the University of Saskatchewan, but developed an interest in publishing.

Clark served as head of publications at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Agricultural College and later moved to the information division of Winnipeg grain handler United Grain Growers (now part of Glencore subsidiary Viterra).

Clark started Grainews in 1975 a free publication for UGG members, but it soon developed a life of its own through its focus on practical, "how to" articles on grain production and marketing.

The farm journal later transitioned to a paid-circulation publication with more than 40,000 subscribers and a strong advertising base. Along with UGG’s other journals it would later become part of Glacier Media’s Farm Business Communications division, in 2003.

The success of the publication was also seen as due to Clark’s theme of "For farmers, by farmers." He recruited columnists with ideas and opinions and instructed them to "Write like you speak, with short sentences and no big words."

Clark was also known for spotting natural writers who were not afraid to be controversial, such as southern Alberta’s Lyle Walker and Saskatchewan’s Alf Bryan, who passed away in December 2012.

Clark is survived by his wife Colette, his children Stan, Lori, Wendy and Fred, and 13 grandchildren. A memorial service is to be held in Winnipeg at a later date.

– An obituary by Farm Business Communications’ editorial director John Morriss will appear in the Feb. 4, 2013 edition of Grainews.