Karen Jekel, former Daily Pilot publisher, dies at age 65

Karen Wittmer Jekel, who served as publisher of the Daily Pilot in the 1980s, has died. She was 65.

Jekel died Dec. 2 at her Arizona home after a fight with cancer.

Jekel served as publisher of the Pilot, then based in Costa Mesa and owned by Ingersoll Publications Co., from 1985 to 1987.

“She was instrumental in upgrading the [Pilot] and making it a respected voice for the South Coast region of Orange County,” said Bob Heber, a Pilot account executive and assistant advertising manager in the 1980s.

Before her move to Orange County, Jekel, a Detroit native, had worked in the advertising departments of the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News. She graduated with a journalism degree from Wayne State University.

She retired in 2007 after serving as publisher for 10 years of the East Valley Tribune in Tempe, Ariz. She and her husband, Lou, split their time between Arizona and Pennsylvania, according to an obituary written by Jim Ripley, a former executive editor at the Tribune.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by her mother, two brothers, a sister, and nieces and nephews.

Services will be private. Jekel’s family asks that any donations go to Northern Arizona Hospice, 203 S. Candy Lane, Suite 10A, Cottonwood, AZ 86326.


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