Cover photo for Kenneth Doyle Kusmer's Obituary
Kenneth Doyle Kusmer Profile Photo
1958 Ken 2024

Kenneth Doyle Kusmer

August 31, 1958 — May 9, 2024

Indianapolis, IN

Associated Press newsman Kenneth Doyle Kusmer, the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2010 Indiana Journalist of the Year, passed away at his Indianapolis home on May 9, 2024, after a brief illness. He was 65.

Ken was born on August 31, 1958, to Doyle and Marian (Mayle) Kusmer in Fremont, Ohio. He worked in his father’s corner grocery store as a boy and graduated from Fremont St. Joseph High School in 1976. He studied at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, working summers at the Fremont Foundry to help pay for his education. He made life-long friends while working at The Post, the OU student newspaper. “Kuz” dropped out of school briefly in 1979-80 to work for the Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun until his Uncle Dewey persuaded him to return to college. 

Ken graduated from OU with a degree in journalism and English in 1981, winning a fellowship to work for the Associated Press in Tel Aviv. A short-term assignment there turned into a two-year stint after Israel invaded Lebanon and the AP needed extra help. While in Israel, Ken spent time on a kibbutz, covered Christmas Eve celebrations in Bethlehem, witnessed Palestinian protests on the West Bank, and reported on the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians by Lebanese Christian militia sent into refugee camps by the Israeli army. 

After returning home in 1983, Ken worked briefly as a correspondent for the Fremont News-Messenger and then as State Desk Reporter at The Columbus Dispatch in Columbus, Ohio. In August 1984, he re-joined the AP in Indianapolis, where he worked for nearly 40 years. There he also met former AP newswoman Jodi Perras, who was his wife for 18 years.

A highly skilled storyteller and interviewer, Ken epitomized the value of a free and independent press, pursuing the truth when business, government and religious leaders were accused of violating the public’s trust. One of his favorite quotes, delivered to him as he pursued a story, was, “"Ken ... Ken ... Ken ... no comment, no comment, no comment."

Ken “was a sharp editor with a love of baseball, music, and good writing,” said John Strauss, a former news editor for the AP in Indianapolis. “Ken was unflappable on the busy Indianapolis news desk, handling everything from breaking national news to hectic Friday night sports.”

“He had a love of a good line,” Strauss added. “Sometimes at the end of a shift, when we were all saying good night, he would grab a line from somewhere — including a favorite of his from Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.” ‘Well,’ Ken would say. ‘Time for my boot heels to be wanderin’.”

“Ken trained me on the overnight shift when I began in the Indianapolis bureau,” said Chris Grygiel, AP deputy director of U.S. text production. “He was very patient showing a rookie the ropes on what was then a very complicated routine. He helped many staffers hone their skills.”

In 2000, he earned the AP’s Dale W. Burgess award for outstanding performance by an Indiana AP staffer. He had led the AP’s coverage of Eli Lilly & Co.’s legal battle to block generic competition for its anti-depressant, Prozac. He had also covered the Indianapolis Baptist Temple’s fight against the Internal Revenue Service over its refusal to withhold federal income taxes from its staff. 

Indiana SPJ named him Journalist of the Year for his 2009 coverage of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ botched effort to privatize and “modernize” Indiana’s welfare system through a $1.3 billion contract with IBM Corp. and other companies. Under the weight of bad publicity, Daniels canceled the contract in October 2009.

Ken took a leave of absence from the AP in 2001 to study at Christian Theological Seminary, earning his Master’s of Theological Studies in 2005. He also worked during 2002-03 as coordinator of religious education at St. Pius X Catholic Church before returning to the AP.

Ken was a member of the AP News Guild. He enjoyed the eclectic sounds of Neil Young, watching birds, and celebrating obscure holidays like Festivus and Dyngus Day. His happiest moments were spent gathered around the family table on Alger Street in Fremont, reuniting with Mayle cousins on Lake Erie’s shores, telling stories in Murphy’s at Flynn's, or hanging out with high school friends in his parents’ basement, drinking beer he’d snuck out of Kusmer’s Market next door. He was a longtime fan of the Cleveland Indians/Guardians, Pittsburgh Penguins and Green Bay Packers. As he described himself on Facebook, “If you don't already know who I am, I probably can't explain it to you.”

Surviving are his son, Kevin, and daughter-in-law, Alyssa, of Carmel, Ind.; sisters Connie (Steve) Hodges of Columbus, Ohio; and Carol (Mike) Avery of Northwood, Ohio; brothers Tom (Lynne) of Port Clinton, Ohio, and Jim (Anne) of Highland Heights, Ohio; brother-in-law Paul Hoelzle of Fremont; and many nieces and nephews. His parents and sister Charlotte Hoelzle preceded him in death.

A Memorial Gathering will be held on Saturday, May 18, from 10 am to 11 am, with a Memorial Service to follow at 11 am, at Flanner Buchanan - Oaklawn Memorial Gardens, 9700 Allisonville Road, Indianapolis, IN 46250. There will be food and fellowship following the service, at the same location. 

Memorial contributions may be made to the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University or the Audubon Society.

To view the livestream of the service, please click here

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Kenneth Doyle Kusmer, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Gathering

Saturday, May 18, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Memorial Service

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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