- Associated Press - Monday, August 22, 2016

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Mark R. Chellgren, who covered Kentucky state government for about two decades for The Associated Press, has died at age 62.

Chellgren died Saturday at his residence in Ashland, Steen Funeral Home Director Mary Vanhoose said. His funeral is scheduled for Wednesday.

Chellgren retired from the AP in 2006, saying he thought 26 years in the journalism field was enough.

A graduate of the University of Kentucky, he was named the AP Frankfort correspondent in 1983. Before that, he was correspondent in the Evansville, Indiana, office of the AP and was responsible for coverage of western Kentucky and southern Indiana.

His colleagues nicknamed him “Bones” for his skinny frame, a name that stuck throughout his career.

In a note to AP staffers before he left, Chellgren said he was counting on colleagues to “carry on what has been a solid tradition of covering the news in Kentucky without gimmicks.”

Kentucky lawmakers passed a resolution at the time to honor Chellgren’s years covering the statehouse, saying he had become “a feared and fearsome fixture in these marble Halls, covering state government for AP in his unique ferocious style.”

Former colleagues remembered him as smart and driven, as someone who could tell a complex story in terms that others could understand, and as dedicated to fairness and accuracy.

Ed Staats, who was bureau chief for the Kentucky AP for 18 years, said Chellgren could turn out stories quickly that were well-written, accurate and objective.

“Mark’s commitment to fairness and context in political reporting was at the highest level and is too often sorely missed in today’s journalism,” Staats said. “His greatest contribution to political reporting in Kentucky was his vast knowledge of state government. Because of his long tenure, he usually knew the issues better than most of his reporter colleagues and even many of the political office holders whom he covered.”

He also relished covering the Kentucky Derby each year, Staats said.

Those who worked in the press corps for decades with Chellgren remembered him as a dedicated reporter who was good with numbers.

“For more than a decade, he really was the authority in the press corps on the state budget and could spot things quicker than anyone else when a governor presented his budget or when the Legislature changed the budget,” said Courier-Journal reporter Tom Loftus.

Loftus said Chellgren was among the first to report on financial problems with state pension fund and legislators’ efforts to enhance their own pensions.

“Mark’s specialty really was the budget and interpreting that for readers in a way that makes a technical numbers story very understandable to the average Joe on what it means and why they did it,” he said. “From my perspective, he had no peer within the Kentucky press corps in understanding the budget.”

Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Jack Brammer, who was part of the Frankfort press corps with Chellgren, recalled him as a reporter who could write about complicated material so that it was not only accurate, fair and balanced but so that public leaders would be held accountable.

“He scrutinized their budgets, their expenditures, their salaries. He was just top notch on it. And he could just do it so daggone fast. That’s what always evades me, that he could handle this material so quickly and write quickly,” Brammer said. “Mark was so ahead of his time.”


Raby reported from Charleston, West Va.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide