‘Joliet Herald News’ Reporter Ken O’Brien Dies At 45

By: E&P Staff

Joliet (Ill.) Herald News reporter Ken O’Brien has died at age 45 after a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis.

O’Brien covered the education beat for the paper, and edited the “Pulse” column of local political gossip.

In an obituary by reporter Brian Stanley, the Herald News said O’Brien checked into a hospital last week feeling ill. He collapsed while awaiting tests Friday and never regained consciousness, the paper said.

O’Brien was a long-time freelance writer for Illinois newspapers who joined the Herald News full-time in 2006. He attended Southern Illinois University, intending to get into broadcasting. ” When cystic fibrosis diminished his vocal capacity, a TV news professor encouraged him to become a newspaper reporter,” the obituary said.

“Few reporters understand the importance of listening as well as Ken did,” Herald News Publisher Larry Randa said in the paper. “He not only had an eye for news, he had an ear for news as well. He was fair. He was accurate. His sources trusted him. His co-workers respected him. He will be deeply missed.”

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