'Extraordinary woman': Edmonton publisher, editor Ruth Kelly dies

Kelly was CEO and editor-in-chief of the award-winning Alberta Venture and Alberta Oil magazines.

'She was a distinguished business woman, a community leader, a philanthropist, and a role model'

Ruth Kelly was a publisher and editor-in-chief of Alberta Venture and Alberta Oil magazines. (John Ulan)

Ruth Kelly, the acclaimed Edmonton editor and publisher of two Alberta-based award-winning magazines, has died.

Kelly, 60, was CEO and editor-in-chief of Alberta Venture and Alberta Oil magazines.

She was renowned for her community involvement, and had received many accolades in the past for her success in the publishing industry, although the magazines had being struggling financially recently.

Kelly's family released a public statement Thursday, confirming her death and requesting privacy from the media.

Family members have not confirmed the circumstances of Kelly's death.

"Our family is grieving the profound loss of Ruth Kelly," reads the statement. "To us she was Ruth, a woman we loved, but to Albertans she was a distinguished business woman, a community leader, a philanthropist, and a role model.

"We ask the media and public for privacy at this time, as we mourn the loss of this extraordinary woman." 

Friends and colleagues took to social media to share their condolences and fond memories.

  Kelly was recognized as a Global Woman of Vision in 1998, and a YWCA Woman of Distinction in the Entrepreneur category in 2003. She was named the Allard Chair of Business at MacEwan School of Business in 2005, the same year she chaired the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.

Canadian Women in Communications selected her for the 2008 Woman of the Year award. She was the first Albertan to receive the honour.

She received an honorary degree in business from NAIT in 2008 and was given the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her contributions to Canada in 2013.

Venture Publishing Inc. was founded in 1997, when Kelly purchased the magazine from the provincial government for $100.

Kelly`s magazine empire had struggled financially for months. According to the Canadian Media Guild Freelance Branch, the magazines owed thousands of dollars to its contributors.

In an interview with CBC News in February, Kelly said Venture had been affected by the economic downturn and changes to media consumption.

"Persistence can never be underestimated," Kelly said in an interview posted on the University of Alberta website in 2013.

"Success takes effort. It also takes a certain curiosity. Some of the most successful business people I know — the serial entrepreneurs — they mostly started a business because they were really curious. And you have to be risk-oriented. If you wish to be successful in business, you have to embrace risk." 

Other publications included Alberta Innovators, Open Mind, Tracks & Treads, Grip, Leap, Signature, WE, PSAC and Hard Hat.