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Former editor devoted to Okotoks

Judi Weaver, who worked for the Western Wheel for 18 years, passed away on Sept. 11 at age of 70

A former Okotoks Western Wheel editor wasn’t afraid to get a few bumps and bruises to cover a story.

That would include a rough ride in a hot air balloon for a competition in the Foothills area.

“Judi, against my better judgement, went for a ride,” said Madeleine Fleck, a former proofreader/office manager at the Okotoks Western Wheel. “I had asked  to write on the balloon, not take a ride.

“She took a tumble on the landing, but I think the camera took the worst of it.”

Weaver worked at the Western Wheel for 18 years, starting shortly after its inception in 1978. She worked for four different publishers, including under Paul Rockley when he bought the community newspaper in 1989.

“I never knew a reporter that got so involved in every story she did,” Rockley said.

“One that stands out happened several years ago when numerous trucks were driving through town and dumping soil at our landfill. Judi wondered why and followed a truck back to the city.

"Turned out they were bringing contaminated soil out of the city to our landfill in the early 1990s. Judi’s articles got the project stopped and in the end they had to dig a pit and line it so the contaminated soil could not leak into nearby water wells.

“When I bought the Wheel in 1989 it was Madeleine Fleck and Judi Weaver who helped me so much over those first few years.”

She interviewed former Alberta environment minister Ralph Klein, the future premier, in the coverage of the landfill story.

Weaver received Editorial and Feature story awards through the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association while working at the Wheel.

She was sometimes left in the dark at home due to her work at the Western Wheel.

“When I bought the paper we didn’t have a darkroom in the office at all,” said former Western Wheel publisher Bruce Klippenstein. “She had the darkroom in the basement of her home.

“She was not only the editor, she was the photographer, who developed her film at her home.”

Family came first to Weaver, but not far behind was the community.

“She was very gung-ho and very concerned about the community,” Klippenstein said. “She worked hard and wanted the absolute best for her community.”

Fleck agreed.

“She was particularily careful about Okotoks and the Wheel’s reputation,” Fleck said. “She hated the bigger presence of Calgary getting into Okotoks news.”

Judi’s husband, Bruce Weaver, was the fire chief for Okotoks for 6 ½ years.

“She was happiest later in her career at the Wheel when Kathy Hebson (Coutts) took over as editor and she got to do more feature work. She covered MD Foothills, and smaller councils," he said. "She got to work with the wonderful people who made up the Okotoks area.

“She worked a lot. For 18 years we did not have a long-weekend, because the paper had to be put out on a Monday.”

A Memorial Service for Judi was held at Sands Funeral Chapel in Duncan, B.C. on Sept. 19.




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Bruce Campbell

About the Author: Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell is the editor for Okotokstoday.ca and the Western Wheel newspaper. He is a graduate of Mount Royal College journalism program, 1991. For story tips contact bcampbell@okotoks.greatwest.ca
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