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Kelly Stone, former WDAY anchor, dies at 52

Kelly Stone

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Kelly Stone, formerly the news director for a cluster of radio stations here and a one-time morning anchor for WDAY-TV in Fargo, died Thursday.

Stone was 52. She was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer in 2011. After a brief remission, she learned it returned in 2013.

“When I was first diagnosed ... I would go out walking, and I would find myself just staring at the ground,” she told a Forum News Service reporter in October. “All of the sudden I realized, ‘This is not good. Look up, let’s look at the people who are walking by, the kids that are having fun, laughing ... realize that there’s other people out there.’ ”

Todd Haugen, operations director at Paul Bunyan Broadcasting in Bemidji, said Stone was the “best reporter I’ve ever known” who had a gift for navigating a sensitive story.

“I always knew that Kelly would handle it perfectly,” Haugen said Friday. “Intelligent, accomplished. Naturally you knew she had lots of opinions, but you would never see them come through” in her stories.

“She was a reporter ... not a radio announcer that had become news director,” he said.

She worked through incredible pain, and her last day was April 30. The station did programming at the time honoring her professional contributions, dedicated their whole morning show to her retirement.

“She was a hard worker. I’ve never known anybody as tough,” Haugen said.

Stone graduated from Bemidji State University with a degree in mass communications and acquired a career’s worth of reporting as a radio, TV and print journalist for news outlets across the Midwest, including stops in Fargo and Grand Forks.

“Initially I thought I was going to be a newspaper reporter, but the job openings were just a little more plentiful in radio when I graduated,” she said in 2013.

Stone worked as an anchor on WDAY’s First News from 1998 to 2005.

In 2010, Stone began working as the news director at Paul Bunyan Broadcasting.

“It’s going to be a chronic thing, probably for the rest of my life,” she said last year about her cancer battle. “We phrase our goals in very simple terms: ‘I want to be able to work, I want to be able to do things with my family, so let’s see if we can find a combination of treatments that will allow me to do that for as long as possible.’ ”

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Olson-Schwartz Funeral Home.

A memorial service is planned on Thursday at Faith Lutheran Church in West Fargo.

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