David Kranz left enduring mark on S.D. journalismMy friend David Kranz is retiring from the newspaper business, leaving the world of journalism one character short. I don’t know if the little man with the unruly hair and shuffling, scurrying gait was what you’d call a great writer. He was a prolific one, though, a dedicated and knowledgeable reporter, and he is one of the most unique individuals ever drawn to this unusual profession.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
My friend David Kranz is retiring from the newspaper business, leaving the world of journalism one character short.
I don’t know if the little man with the unruly hair and shuffling, scurrying gait was what you’d call a great writer. He was a prolific one, though, a dedicated and knowledgeable reporter, and he is one of the most unique individuals ever drawn to this unusual profession.
Normal people don’t get into journalism. If they do, they don’t stay long. It’s a business you either love or hate. David loved it, whether he was working the phones in the newsroom, wandering downtown streets looking for quotes or running out to the edge of his city with the morning edition of the newspaper to drop off on the porch of someone who called and said they hadn’t gotten their paper that day.
(No, handling the late deliveries wasn’t part of his job description. It was just something he did. I will tell you that a few times in Pierre, where I spent my Argus Leader career, I took similar calls and — thinking of Kranz and his loyalty toward our subscribers — rolled up my paper, put a rubber band around it and hauled it out to the customer who had been missed during the morning route.)
David was a couple of years behind me in journalism at South Dakota State University. We were acquaintances there, and we didn’t become friends, really, until he was working at the Mitchell Daily Republic and I was working at the Pierre Capital Journal. We’d get together at editors’ meetings and talk shop, politics and state happenings.
He moved to the Argus Leader while I was still at the Cap Journal. It was a good move for David in terms of career.
It was a good move for me, too, because a couple of years after he joined the paper, he encouraged the executive editor, Ward Bushee, to hire me for the Argus Leader’s bureau in Pierre. I lasted most of 22 years there. David was there when I arrived and there when I left. It’s going to take some time to work my mind around the notion of the Argus without Kranz.
Early in my Argus stint, during a visit to the big city, I brought my younger son, Andy, to the newsroom with me. Andy was maybe 10 then. He’d no sooner than reached the top steps to the newsroom than David came hurrying across the room, wanting to know who the young man was with me.
He and Andy jawed a while about Little League and life in Pierre and which professional baseball team had the best chance of winning the World Series that year. That’s about all it was, but Andy never forgot.
Neither did David. Nearly every time he saw me in the newsroom after that, he asked about Andy — how school was going, what he was planning to do for college, things like that.
When Andy and the Pierre Governors played in the state basketball tournament in 1996, I returned to the Pierre bureau after the tourney weekend to find a long voicemail from David.
He just wanted to say he’d seen the kid play on television in the opening round, Nancy and I should be proud of what a great young man he turned out to be, and I should be sure to tell him Kranz said hello.
Andy, 18 and pretty macho at the time, beamed like a little kid when I relayed the message.
David has been called the dean of political journalists in South Dakota, and he did chronicle the activities of the best-known politicians of the past four decades. I liked best, though, his stories of shopkeepers, farmers, bankers and other South Dakota men and women less famous than the politicians.
One of David’s own favorite interviews was several years ago when he encountered a White River middle-schooler named Louie Krogman, now a University of South Dakota student-athlete.
I always believed that was David at his best, finding notable folks who hadn’t been found yet, asking his trademark “What’s your story?’’ and then putting their answers in the newspaper. I’ll miss that.