'A consummate journalist': Longtime News Tribune newsman John Krebs dead at 85

"Every morning he would be leaving the door by 7:20."

John Krebs

In the sometimes chaotic world of newspaper work, John Krebs was as steady as a clock.

"Every morning he would be leaving the door by 7:20," recalled his daughter, Louise Ziegler. "He had to walk up across (Woodland Avenue), and then he would wait for that 7:30 bus and get on the bus, go to work. … And I remember he would always be off the bus and home by 5 or 5:30."

Described by former associates at the Duluth News Tribune as a model journalist and by his children as devoted to family, John E. Krebs died on March 12 at St. Cloud Hospital. He was 85.

He had suffered from prostate cancer that spread to his bones and congestive heart failure, his son Eric Krebs said.


A Superior native, Krebs had three stints at the News Tribune, separated by work that included positions at the Hibbing and Duluth chambers of commerce. Along with his wife, Elouise, he also published the Gilbert Herald weekly newspaper from 1959-64.

Krebs' last stint at the News Tribune began in 1973 and ended with his retirement in 1994, with service as a sports and city/county reporter, editorial page assistant and regional editor. His final project for the newspaper was compiling the book "Duluth News Tribune Impressions 125 Years," a collection of front pages and articles from throughout the history of the News Tribune and previous publications.

Retired News Tribune reporter Mark Stodghill worked with Krebs both in sports and as a reporter when Krebs was regional editor.

"He was a good newsman and a greater person," Stodghill said. "A very nice guy."

Reporter John Myers said that when he started at the News Tribune, Krebs was regional editor.

"It seemed he was always in a good mood, always smiling," Myers said. "I don't think I ever saw him get angry."

Tod Chadwick, a News Tribune retiree who was night news editor when Krebs covered the city hall beat, called him a "very likeable, easygoing guy. Never got flustered. A terrific reporter. Very good with words. A consummate journalist."

Retired News Tribune columnist Jim Heffernan called Krebs "a very straightforward, old-school journalist. ... He was a very clear writer."


In spite of the demands of the job, his dad never missed a home game and missed few road games from the time he was an elementary school basketball player through his high school career at Duluth East, said Eric, who was part of a Greyhounds team that went to the state tournament twice.

"The level of support was never-ending," said Eric, who went on to graduate from the Naval Academy and serve in the Navy and now is president of Inspyir, a consulting firm with offices in Duluth and the state of Virginia.

"I have newfound respect for his ability to pull that off," added middle child Randy Krebs, who followed in his father's footsteps and is an editor at the St. Cloud Times. "Being able to coach the youth basketball teams and get to the basketball games and performances of concerts - how he did it, I'm not sure."

His dad was an "outdoors guy" who worked his way through college by serving as a fishing guide and resort employee in the Boundary Waters area, Randy said. He also enjoyed curling and was dismayed, after he and Elouise moved to the St. Cloud area several years ago, to discover there was no curling club nearby, Randy said.

His dad watched the Duluth Curling Club team's recent run to an Olympic gold medal with "enjoyment and intensity," Randy said.

Her father "was always thinking about other people and what would be best for them," said Louise Ziegler, who teaches in the Sauk Rapids-Rice, Minn., schools. "And (he was) definitely by far the most patient man I think I've ever met. Just a gentle soul, very laid back."

In addition to his wife of 60 years and three children, John Krebs is survived by six grandchildren. He was preceded in death by an infant brother and two grandchildren.

Duluth observance


A memorial service in Duluth for John E. Krebs will take place on May 5 at Glen Avon Presbyterian Church, 2105 Woodland Ave. Visitation will be at 10 a.m. and the service at 11 a.m., with refreshments to follow.

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