April 24, 2014 - 08:19
Polk editor succumbs to cancer
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A special open house celebration of her life will be held at the Polk County News office in downtown Benton on Thursday, Sep 27 from 3-7 pm. Current owner and publisher, Cheryl Buehler, invites everyone to stop in to share in the celebration of Ingrid’s accomplishments and love of her community.

Ingrid Ann Buehler, long time owner/editor of the Polk County News, died of cancer Sep. 19 at her home in Reliance, Polk County. She was 68 years old.

For 29 years, she and her family worked to tell Polk County’s story. Tourism, county events, government workings, and Polk County’s beauty all were her topics. She listened, prodded, amused and tried to keep local journalism alive and well.

Her career as a newspaper person began at Towson State College in 1964 and professionally spanned the period from 1974-2012. She taught English in a junior high school from 1966-71 then stopped to start a family.

Her heart was always in community news. She believed in giving even the smallest paper a strong product. She helped found the Junior Women’s Club of Golden Beach, Md, and it became one of the top such service clubs in the state. She and her husband helped write one of Maryland’s first local open meetings laws. She even managed to publish one of her ‘specials’ from home during a 23” snowstorm.

From a small weekly newspaper in Leonardtown, Md. called the St. Mary’s Beacon in 1974 she progressed to editorship of the Maryland Independent in Waldorf Maryland—a twice-weekly publication of about 20,000 readers. During those years she earned more than a dozen press association awards for outstanding news stories, feature stories and photography.

She also drew the envy of every editor in the 27-newspaper chain she worked for by being invited to sit at the head table at a conference dinner next to the great CBS news anchor Walter Kronkite. They even went dancing.

 She welcomed the opportunity with her husband Randy and her two children (Randy Junior and Cheryl) to purchase the Polk County News in 1983. It was initially a scary decision (especially when, as the family rested in a motel room before driving back to Maryland to move furniture, one of the local TV stations broadcast a report that Polk County was bankrupt), but she always said it turned out to be the best decision she and her family ever made.

Financial help from Denny and Becky Mobbs in 1985 allowed the newspaper to computerize and purchase the Copperhill Citizen Advance and helped spark her career-long effort to unite both sides of Polk County, She refused to say ‘above and below’ the mountain but said ‘east and west’ instead.

Her sense of fairness, truth and community support blossomed in Polk County. She attended every local meeting she could. Ingrid was so quiet, some meeting attendees never knew she was there. It was her goal to report the news, not be a part of it. As her reputation grew, politicians and board members began to keep an eye out, as it seemed she was always there doing her job - listening. Her note taking skills and ability to report exactly what happened once drew the comment from a frustrated politician—“If you don’t want to see it, don’t say it!” Yet she refused to print anything that smelled of rumor without getting adequate confirmation.

She had time to listen and talk to almost anyone and everyone except on Tuesday, which was deadline day.

Under her leadership, the county got its first large circulation tourism publication: Polk County—The Undiscovered Treasure. (Now called Nature’s Playground.) One soon expanded to three, including The Tennessee Overhill Experience and Fantastic Fall Foliage. She was active with the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association since its inception, always in support of its goal of promoting the heritage of the area along with recreational tourism.

Polk County’s heritage was important to Ingrid, who began publishing a series of community and family histories during the Homecoming ’86 celebration. The heritage articles quickly became an important staple of the newspaper, and continue to run on the front page of every edition. Because of the interest in the history of the county, she began cataloging every heritage article as it ran in order to allow genealogy researchers the ability to have access to all the files of the newspaper.

Along with providing access to community histories, family histories, school and other old photos, Ingrid published several books and booklets highlighting Polk County’s rich history, including The Old Line Railroad, A Tribute to the Miners, The Confederate History of Polk County, Civil War Diary, Thurman Parish’s The Old Home Place, and several others.

Along with her love of the county’s history, Ingrid’s love of the flora and fauna in the county spawned a yearly wildflower walk through Towee Mountain where she could share her knowledge of the beauty growing underfoot. A far cry from her roots in Washington, DC, she found her true home in the mountains of Polk County.

It was her job to present the facts and let the reader decide. She earned a pair of Tennessee School Bell awards for her dedication to local education along with countless other awards and accolades during her tenure at the helm of the Polk County News.

In short, this ‘Yankee,’ as one local patron said, fit in ‘like an old shoe.’

A special open house celebration of her life will be held at the Polk County News office in downtown Benton on Thursday, Sep 27 from 3-7 pm. Current owner and publisher, Cheryl Buehler, invites everyone to stop in to share in the celebration of Ingrid’s accomplishments and love of her community. Jasper Woody, former owner of the Polk County News, will give a prayer at 6 p.m., followed by a few words from Denny Mobbs. Others who wish to speak or share a story, thought or feeling about Ingrid will be welcomed to do so. The celebration will conclude with a prayer from Gary Graham.




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Polk County News | P.O. Box 129 | 3 Main Street | Benton TN 37307
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