Former United Church Observer managing editor Rev. Kenneth Bagnell died on Tuesday in Toronto. He was 87.
Bagnell helped lead The Observer, now Broadview, in the late 1960s and wrote many articles for the magazine over the years.
“Ken Bagnell made a substantial contribution to this publication, both during his time as managing editor in the 1960s, and with his incisive freelance contributions in the decades that followed,” says Jocelyn Bell, editor/publisher of Broadview.
“When I stepped into the role of Editor/Publisher, Ken and I began meeting regularly for lunch. He was intensely interested in what we were doing, and thoughtful in the gentle wisdom he dispensed. He had a gift for storytelling, never failing to draw me into a tale about The Observer in the 1960s, always landing a perfectly timed punchline.”
Bagnell was also an ordained United Church minister, the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose work appeared in many publications including the Globe and Mail, the Montreal Gazette and the National Post. He was editor of The Imperial Oil Review, an award-winning corporate magazine until his retirement in 1989.
Bagnell began working for The Observer in 1961 after he impressed then-editor Rev. Al Forrest with his writing.
In 1962, Bagnell interviewed Martin Luther King Jr. The Observer republished portions of that interview in 2018, 50 years after King was killed. Memorably, Bagnell conducted part of his interview with King in a taxi.
Though his journalism career took him to many publications, and around the world, his connection to The Observer and Broadview remained strong.
“I came to think of Ken as the magazine’s grandfather: someone who knows your whole history, flaws and all, and still supports you to be your very best,” says Bell. “Ken was cherished by all of us at Broadview, and he will be deeply missed.”
Emma Prestwich is Broadview’s digital editor.
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