Kenneth C. Bronson, 77, a leading figure in Kansas journalism for nearly 60 years and former Pittsburg newspaper publisher, died Monday, Oct. 25, 2010, in Topeka.

Kenneth C. Bronson, 77, a leading figure in Kansas journalism for nearly 60 years and former Pittsburg newspaper publisher, died Monday, Oct. 25, 2010, in Topeka.

He was known for introducing technological innovation in the newspaper field, starting in Pittsburg.

Employed by Stauffer Publications, he was assigned to come to Pittsburg in 1966 to serve as editor and publisher of the Pittsburg Sun, a morning newspaper, and the Pittsburg Headlight, which came out in the evening.

In the fall of 1966 Bronson merged the two into the Pittsburg Headlight-Sun, a seven-day morning newspaper. The name was later changed to the Pittsburg Morning Sun.

“I worked with Ken some 30 years,” said Tom Collinson, who served as Morning Sun publisher after Bronson. “He was always on the cutting edge of new technology. He took the Morning Sun from hot metal type to offset printing.”

He also became one of the first journalists in the nation to embrace computer technology, installing the first small newspaper newsroom computer system west of the Mississippi at the Morning Sun.

“Ken was simply ahead of his time much of his career,” said Doug Anstaett, executive director of the Kansas Press Association. “He talked 25 to 30 years ago about newspapers utilizing data-based marketing techniques, long before it became commonplace and has become the basis for what drives use of the Internet today. He was a mover and a shaker in the industry for decades.”

Bronson was also someone very important in Anstaett’s career.

“Ken was my first boss,” he said. “I was a reporter in Pittsburg from 1973 to 1974.”

“I knew Ken for many years in Topeka, and he was the ultimate professional and gentleman,” said Stephen Wade, current Morning Sun publisher. “He always had time to mentor young professionals, and I was very fortunate that he helped me. Our industry has lost a very dear friend.”

Bronson was born in 1933 on a farm in Kensington, in north-central Kansas, and was valedictorian of the Kensington High School class of 1951. His first job in journalism was writing sports for the Lawrence Journal-World. He started with Stauffer in Topeka as a sports writer in 1952, but left the firm in 1959 to purchase his own weekly newspaper in Pierce City, Mo. He built it into an award-winner in one year, but rejoined Stauffer in 1962 as editor of the Independence, Mo., Examiner. He served there until coming to Pittsburg.

In 1976 Oscar Stauffer, founder of Stauffer Publications, invited Bronson to oversee Stauffer newspapers as vice president, and he moved to Topeka in 1977.

When Stauffer was preparing to sale the company in 1993, Bronson moved to Indiana and became chief operating officer for Nixon Newspapers, retiring from that position in 1997. He had served as president of the Kansas Press Association and the Inland Press Association, and gave numerous seminars and workshops at newspapers across the nation and around the world.

While in Pittsburg he was active in the First Christian Church and often involved the Pittsburg Morning Sun in community service work. He said he shared the belief of his personal hero, Oscar Stauffer that you should “Count that day lost when your newspaper has not done something to benefit the community it serves.”

He and his wife, Edith, had three children, Brian Bronson, Laura Bronson and Linda Bronson.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday at the First Christian Church, Topeka, with the family receiving friends an hour prior to service time at the church. Penwell-Gabel Mid Town Chapel is in charge of arrangements.