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Iron Range newspaper legend dies, remembered for his dedication to journalism

Bill Hanna was the longtime editor of the Mesabi Daily News.

A longtime Iron Range newspaper editor died Monday at his home in Virginia/Mountain Iron surrounded by family, his obituary says.

Bill Hanna, 70, was the former executive editor of the Mesabi Daily News (now the Mesabi Tribune), working at the paper for more than 30 years after starting there in the 1980s and retiring in 2016 when he had a "life-changing heart attack," the Mesabi Tribune reports

Hanna, who detailed his health scare in a column, had a heart transplant in 2017 and was later diagnosed with terminal cancer. He had been in hospice care since Dec. 24, 2020, the paper said. 

Hanna, an award-winning journalist, is being remembered fondly by many for his work, with journalists – many whose first editor was Hanna – and lawmakers calling him a "powerhouse" who supported his staff and served his community well. Here's a sampling:

In a statement, state Rep. Dave Lislegard, DFL-Aurora, said Hanna informed the Iron Range and helped tell the region's stories to the world, saying his "reporting let folks not only read about the opportunity, but to see it, feel it, and experience it."

“Bill had a tenacious nose for hypocrisy and mistruths, and a willingness to hold those in positions of power accountable," Lislegard added. "Now more than ever, people deserve a free press in our country, and strong, independent news outlets, especially in rural areas. Bill made each of these a reality on the Iron Range. I will miss Bill deeply, and my prayers are with his family for comfort.”

Funeral arrangements are pending with Washburn-McReavy Funeral Home in Minneapolis. A longer obituary with information about a memorial service will be published later.

Meanwhile, the Mesabi Tribune says it will publish a "more extensive" story on Hanna in Thursday's paper. 

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