Newspaper article

Prominent Political Journalist Jim Ragsdale, 64, Dies of Pancreatic Cancer

Newspaper article

Prominent Political Journalist Jim Ragsdale, 64, Dies of Pancreatic Cancer

Article excerpt

Jim Ragsdale, a well-respected and much-liked writer-reporter best known for covering local and state politics, has died at age 64 of pancreatic cancer.

During his career he worked at the Star Tribune as a reporter, then for 30 years at the Pioneer Press as a reporter and editorial writer before returning to the Strib three years ago. He also worked briefly at Minnesota Public Radio.

He wrote clues for the Winter Carnival medallion hunt, sponsored by the St. Paul paper, and he was a frequent guest monologist on public television's "Almanac" weekly political show.

He was diagnosed with cancer last year.

His years in the trenches at the state Capitol included the Gov. Jesse Ventura era, which found him digging deeply into the governor's politics and life.

In a 2011, Ragsdale moved from the Pioneer Press back to the Strib's Capitol bureau. At the time, MinnPost's David Brauer wrote that Rags had been cited by City Pages in 2002 as the best political reporter, noting:

Along with providing a revealing glimpse into Ventura's past, a good number of amusing anecdotes, and a cogent analysis of his term as governor, [Ragsdale's] "A.K.A. Jesse Ventura" pinned the Body down on the elusive question of his military service. (Did our SEAL- cap-wearing, tough-talking governor ever actually hunt man, as he once famously suggested? The short answer: no).

Such reporting, of course, endeared him to readers and colleagues, but not always with the governor.

Mike Burbach, Pioneer Press editor and vice president, who worked with Ragsdale on the editorial page, called Ragsdale "a generous guy, curious and bright." He was well-read, "always informing himself out of honest-to-goodness curiosity."

And he was a really nice guy, Burbach said: "Jim could have almost any discussion with almost anybody at almost any depth of intensity, and everyone would come out of it feeling good. …

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