A celebration of life for Ralph Dana “Bud” Gage Jr., 80, a longtime newspaper executive with the Lawrence Journal-World and a member of the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame, will be at 3 p.m. Friday, March 11 at the Lied Center of Kansas. An opportunity to visit with family will follow the service.
Gage died suddenly Jan. 30, 2022, at home. Private family burial was in Highland Cemetery, Ottawa, Kan.
Gage was born Sept. 9, 1941, in Ottawa, Kan. He was a 1959 graduate of Ottawa High School. He and Martha Ann Senter were married in Ottawa on Nov. 23, 1963; she survives, of the home.
Also surviving are daughter, Susan Gage, and her husband, Gerald M. Sass Jr., of Tualatin, Ore.; son, Paul Gage, Washington, D.C.; brothers Dr. George Gage, Paola, Kan., and Dr. Robert Gage, Derby, Kan.; and grandchildren Samuel and Abigail Sass.
Gage was inducted into Ottawa High School’s Wall of Honor in 2006. Ten years later he became a member of the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame; he received the Kansas Press Association’s “Outstanding Mentor Award” in 2009.
He was a 1964 graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism. After graduating from KU, Gage worked at the Salina Journal in Salina, Kan., as district editor and Sunday editor, and then moved to the Metro-East Journal in East St. Louis, Ill. He joined the staff at the Lawrence Journal-World in 1969, and during a 43-year career with the Journal-World and its parent company, The World Company, Gage served in multiple roles including managing editor, general manager, chief operating officer and director of special projects. As a reporter, he covered KU and was part of the team that reported on the 1970 burning of the Kansas Union and the civil unrest on campus. He had additional management responsibilities for other company operations, including weekly newspapers, magazines, cable television, internet, software development and a network-affiliate television station. He retired in 2013 and remained on the company’s board of directors until 2016, when the company sold its media assets.
“I just enjoyed reporting and writing and meeting people,” Gage told the Journal-World in a story about his induction into the Hall of Fame. “When I landed here, I had the opportunity to get into the management side, and then ultimately into corporate management. One thing led to another, and 43 years flew by. Writing and reporting, though, are still the most fun, I think.”
During his time in management at the Journal-World, Gage was particularly proud of the efforts to bring together the newsrooms of the newspaper and 6News, a cable news channel previously owned by The World Company. The “converged newsroom” attracted national attention from The New York Times and drew media executives from across the country to tour the operations.
Gage wrote about the World Company’s convergence efforts for Nieman Reports (Winter 2006) and presented about those efforts in numerous forums in the U.S. and abroad. The Times, in writing about the company in 2005, called him “a no-nonsense taskmaster…deputized to make sure the company’s trains ran on time.” Tim O’Brien of The Times, Gage frequently said, might have written his epitaph.
In a Journal-World story upon his retirement, he was lauded for the standard of excellence and reputation for detail he brought to his work. Dolph C. Simons Jr., chairman of The World Company, was quoted as saying Gage had “played a major role in nearly everything good that has happened to the paper.”
Gage served on the board of directors of the News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill., until October 2020 and had been a trustee of the William Allen White Foundation. He was a member of the board of directors of Crime Stoppers of Lawrence and Douglas County, serving as secretary, and he and his wife co-chaired the New Generation Society of Lawrence in 2020-2021.
Gage was a graduate of Leadership Kansas (1983) and was active in community, professional and business organizations as well as First Baptist Church, where he twice served as Moderator and co-led fund-raising efforts with Martha. He was a member of the Kansas-Lower Republican River Basin Advisory Committee and served several terms on the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Before they were renamed, he was a board leader of the United Fund in Lawrence and the Boys Club of Lawrence. He had been a board member of Van Go Inc., and a board member of Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America.
He was a cyclist and a long-time participant in Red Dog’s Dog Days. He cherished his age-group (70s) victories in the Dr. Bob’s Run, as well as having completed five Matfield Green Metric Centuries (aka “the death ride.”)
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ralph and Thelma Gage.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in Gage’s memory to the William Allen White School of Journalism at KU, Van Go Inc., or First Baptist Church, in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, PO Box 1260, Lawrence, KS 66044.
Online condolences maybe sent at rumsey-yost.com.