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Veteran newsman Ernest J. "Ernie" Ford Jr., whose career included stops at The Salt Lake Tribune and KSL-Ch. 5, died June 1 in Greencastle, Ind.

"Ernie was one of Utah's great journalists," said former KSL news director Spence Kinard, who hired Ford to work at the station. "He had printer's ink in his blood and a great inquisitiveness. He was one of the best people I ever worked with."

Born June 7, 1940 in Salt Lake City, Ford earned bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Utah. He was editor of The Daily Utah Chronicle as a student and was later the paper's faculty adviser.

In addition to his management stints as assistant city editor of the Tribune, managing editor at KSL-TV and assistant news director/managing editor of KDFW-TV in Dallas, Ford taught journalism at the U., Brigham Young University, Utah State University and DePauw University in Indiana.

"He will be remembered by a lot of journalists still working today as a great mentor," Kinard said.

Con Psarras, KSL's vice president of editorials and special projects, remembered Ford as "a one-of-a-kind character."

"He was inspirational to a lot of people," said Psarras, KSL's former news director. "He was a real journalist who cared about all those fundamental things that make journalists good at what they do. He was a stickler for detail. If you got something wrong, it was not a pleasant experience. Someone said they earned their first layer of thick skin from Ernie Ford."

Ford worked as a reporter at the Deseret News and an editor at the Idaho Post-Register in Idaho Falls before going to the Tribune.

Among the honors he received were a Sigma Delta Chi award for broadcast public service, several regional Emmys, the Eudora Welty Award, and the DuPont Award. In 2006, he was inducted into The Daily Utah Chronicle's hall of fame.

As president of the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Ford led the fight for Utah's Open Meetings Law. In 1991, he was elected national president of the SPJ. He was named executive director of the national SPJ, then based in Greencastle, in 1992, and testified before Congress in support of the Freedom of Information Act.

Ford and his wife, Linda, owned a bookstore in Greencastle, where he continued to teach journalism at DePauw University and became involved in local theater.

A celebration of Ernie Ford's life will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Putnam County Playhouse, 715 South County Road 100 East, Greencastle, Ind.