Former Inter Lake publisher Tom Kurdy was honored Saturday with the Master Editor-Publisher Award bestowed by the Montana Newspaper Association.
Kurdy was publisher of the Daily Inter Lake twice, from January 1991 to April 1994 and again from October 2000 until his retirement in June 2010. All told, he spent more than half of his 40-year career in journalism at the Inter Lake, beginning with a stint as business manager from 1976 to 1984.
"There are many talented and dedicated newspaper professionals in the state of Montana," Kurdy said in accepting the award. "It has been my privilege to work with them for many years and I am honored to receive this award from the Montana Newspaper Association."
The award was presented to Kurdy by current Inter Lake publisher Rick Weaver during the Master Editor-Publisher/Hall of Fame lunch held during the newspaper association's annual convention at Big Sky.
Weaver said, "I can think of no other newspaper person more deserving of this award. Tom Kurdy has had a great career, watching the news with an ever diligent eye and helping shape young journalists."
One of those young journalists was Inter Lake Managing Editor Frank Miele, who worked with Kurdy for 15 years during his own 28-year career at the Inter Lake, starting when he was 29 years old. Miele spoke at the presentation, reprising some lines he wrote in a column about Kurdy's retirement in 2010.
"Working for a perfectionist like Tom Kurdy was always a challenge. Tom cared about every aspect of the Daily Inter Lake, from the smallest piece of lint on the carpet to the biggest typo on the front page," Miele said.
"He always reminded us that our best was the least we could do. No, he didn't make me perfect, but he made me better. He can say that about a lot of us who worked at the Inter Lake over the years, and that's quite a legacy."
Kurdy began his career with the Hagadone Corp. at the company headquarters in Coeur d'Alene as an accountant and auditor. However, more than half of his career was spent at the Inter Lake, beginning with a stint as business manager from 1976 to 1984. He later served as publisher in Kalispell from January 1991 to April 1994, and was again named publisher in October 2000, serving until his retirement in 2010.
At that time, Duane B. Hagadone, the founder of the Hagadone newspaper chain, described Kurdy as "one of the best publishers in the history of our company."
Before returning to the Inter Lake in 2000, Kurdy also spent a year on corporate duties in the Coeur d'Alene headquarters. Earlier in his career, he also worked briefly as business manager of the Sandpoint Daily Bee, Bonners Ferry Herald and Priest River Times in North Idaho.
Kurdy's entire career was spent with the Hagadone Corp., owner of the Daily Inter Lake. In addition to his time at the Inter Lake, Kurdy also served as publisher of the largest paper in the Hagadone group, the Sioux City (Iowa) Journal from 1994 to 1999. That 50,000 circulation newspaper was later sold by Hagadone.
His first job as publisher was at Moses Lake, Wash., where he served at the Columbia Basin Herald from 1985 to 1991.
When he retired, he was also serving as publisher of the Hungry Horse News, Whitefish Pilot and Bigfork Eagle and previously the Lake County Leader in Polson.
Brad Hagadone, president of the Hagadone Communications Division, when Kurdy announced his retirement, noted, "Tom has had a stellar career with our company, exceeding our expectations and goals at every newspaper plant that he ran... He has always been a pleasure to work with, a guy who has a great can-do attitude along with a first-class work ethic."
Throughout his career, Kurdy has taken an active role in the community, serving on the Kalispell Area Chamber of Commerce's board of directors as well as on the boards of various non-profits. In several of the communities where he has worked, he has been a participant in Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis and other civic groups.
He also served several terms on the Montana Newspaper Association's board of directors, and was president of the MNA from June 2008 until June 2009. During his tenure, the group's annual convention was held in Kalispell.
Gary Moseman of the Great Falls Tribune also received the Master Editor-Publisher Award on Saturday.