Highly respected former Kansas City Star business editor Jerry Heaster, 74, passed away Wednesday from esophageal cancer at his Lenexa home.
According to a story written by the Star’s Diane Stafford, Heaster wrote more than 5,000 columns in his 27-year career in Kansas City and won numerous journalism awards during his career.A staunch believer in the free market, Heaster won legions of fans, as well as critics, for his conservative columns.
“It was a privilege to work with Jerry for several years,” former KC Star reporter Julius Karash told Bottom Line. “He was a great journalist and a true gentleman.
“Jerry’s knowledge, skills, good humor and grace under pressure were an inspiration.”
Heaster had been forced to retire in 2006 due to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Eighteen months ago, he also was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
“We have lost a great journalist and a wonderful friend,” said Steve Shirk, managing editor of The Star. “He loved his dialogue with readers and never let them down. His 5,000 columns are proof of that.”
According to Stafford, Heaster’s journalism career began with the Pacific Stars and Stripes and the Okinawa Morning Star in the 1960s. He next spent a decade with The Journal Herald in Dayton, Ohio, where he began focusing on business news. He was hired in 1979 to be the business editor of The Kansas City Star. He began writing his column fulltime in 1990.
Heaster had requested no memorial service. Instead of flowers, the family suggested contributions to the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. He leaves his wife, Shizue; his daughter, Hope, and her family; and his son, Randy, and his family.
Randy Heaster had been a reporter/columnist at the McClatchy-owned paper for several years until he was let go in February 2011.