Legacy lives on | Editorial

What I admired most about Ted Grossman was his deep community spirit.

He didn’t just write about the news – he was invested in his story subjects. It’s really the essence of small-town journalism: news coverage with heart and sensitivity.

Grossman, a long-time Orcas Islander and former owner and editor of the Islands’ Sounder, passed away on May 3 with his wife Kay and children Alex and Marcy by his side after a brief battle with metastatic lung cancer.

Ted and Kay bought the Sounder in 1985 from Al and Nickee Magnuson. The Grossmans sold the Sounder in 1994 to Sound Publishing Inc., and Ted stayed on as the editor until his retirement in 2006.

He will be missed by the Sounder staff – both current and past – and by the many community members whose lives he touched. Ted was known for his intensity but also his sense of humor.

As someone who grew up on Lopez and San Juan Island, I was very familiar with Ted’s reporting. As a young intern at the Islands’ Weekly, I always looked up to Ted as what it meant to be a “real” journalist. That entailed going to sporting events, covering meetings and profiling community members.

In watching his relationship with Amanda Leidig, his long-time reporter at the Sounder, I was in awe of their easy rapport and head-on tackling of issues. I looked up to them and to publisher Elyse Van den Bosch, who embodied small-town, passionate journalism.

Since I have been publisher at the Islands’ Sounder, I have tried to carry on what Ted cultivated for all those years. His dedicated spirit will live on for years within the pages of our beloved newspaper.

— Colleen Smith Armstrong, Islands’ Sounder publisher, editor


The newspaper business has always been a competitive one, even here in the islands. My first-ever encounter with Ted Grossman was colored by that very spirit of competition, friendly though it was. It was more than a decade ago. We had run across each other on the ferry. I was a reporter with the Journal, fairly new on the job, and to the islands as well. Ted was editor of The Islands’ Sounder, had been for eons, or so it seemed. I couldn’t help but feeling a little intimidated.

He roasted me for a bit over which paper’s coverage of some news of the day was superior, I don’t recall on what topic, not that it matters. From the twinkle in his eye and playfulness in that entirely distinctive voice of his, I could tell he got a kick out of trying to “get my goat.” I came away feeling fine that he even took the time to strike up a conservation, even if only to tease me. Others in his position might have simply ignored me, been aloof.

People mattered to Ted. Which “team” they played on? Not so much.

A couple years later, after Sound Publishing acquired the Journal, Ted and I ended up playing on the same team. I got handed the ‘county beat’ and he became one of my bosses. I became better at what I did because it mattered to Ted. Still, it was never purely top-down with Ted, a one-way street. Over time I came to realize my contribution was not simply expected, but valued, my ideas and insights as well. When someone relies on and trusts in you, it makes a difference.

People mattered to Ted. His friends, even more. I’ve been blessed to have been among them.

— Scott Rasmussen, editor, Journal of the San Juan Islands


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