Missoulian, Ravalli Republic, Billings Gazette publisher Mike Gulledge leaving Lee Enterprises

Missoulian, Ravalli Republic, Billings Gazette publisher Mike Gulledge leaving Lee Enterprises

“Mike’s ingenuity, enthusiasm and uplifting spirit have been an integral part of our success in moving the company forward,” said Executive Chairman Mary Junck. “He has been a terrific colleague, and I’m grateful for his unflinching, can-do attitude and his service to Lee.”

Dave Worstell, general manager at the Gazette for the last four years, will become publisher there. An announcement about the new publisher for the  Missoulian and Ravalli Republic  is expected Tuesday.

Lee President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Mowbray said Gulledge has been an invaluable member of the corporate leadership team. “He’s spearheaded countless successful initiatives for our company,” Mowbray added. “His energy and passion for our industry are contagious. He will be greatly missed.”

Gulledge, 58, has served as publisher of Billings Gazette Communications since 2000 and was elected an operating vice president and an officer of the company in 2005, overseeing daily newspapers and digital operations in 10 states. He was named vice president of sales and marketing in 2012 before becoming vice president-publishing in 2015.

Gulledge, who has a home on Flathead Lake, became publisher of the Missoulian and the Ravalli Republic in March 2017 as part of a regional management restructuring.

He told the Billings Gazette on Monday that he began thinking about stepping down in July. He’d just met with his cardiologist, who discovered arteries in Gulledge’s heart that were 90 percent and 95 percent blocked.

“He told me, ‘If you don’t do something, you’re going to die,'” Gulledge said.

Gulledge, who’s been on medical leave, called the resulting quadruple coronary bypass surgery “a life-changing event.”

“Although fully recovered, I have decided to take some time with my wife, Susan, to determine what opportunities are ahead for us,” he said. “My 36 years with Lee Enterprises have been extremely rewarding, and there’s nothing else like the excitement of working in a daily newspaper and digital organization. It’s been a pleasure working with talented peers and the many dedicated community members throughout my career.”

“I can think of two words to describe Mike,” said John Cech, president of Carroll College. “He cared.”

Cech, who was with Rocky Mountain College when Gulledge took over the Gazette 18 years ago, noticed immediately his interest in higher education. Cech would go on to serve as dean of City College and deputy commissioner of the state’s university system. In each role he rubbed shoulders with Gulledge.

“He is truly, in my opinion, someone who cares about his community and the state,” he said.

As more Montana readers embraced digital news, Gulledge’s passion drove the creation of a statewide sports website, 406mtsports.com, and a statewide website dedicated to coverage of the outdoors, hunting and fishing, montanauntamed.com. Both feature stories and photos by journalists for all five Lee newspapers in Montana, reflecting a cooperative approach he forged to help each of the newsrooms reach more readers with their work.

During his career with Lee, Gulledge served as advertising manager at The Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale, Illinois; advertising manager at the Herald & Review in Decatur, Illinois; and advertising manager at the Quad-City Times in Davenport. He was also general manager, and later publisher of the Herald & Review.

Gulledge began his career with Lee in 1982 as a college intern at The Southern Illinoisan while earning a degree in journalism and advertising at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

He and his wife live in Billings.

In addition to Montana, Lee’s markets include St. Louis, Missouri; Lincoln, Nebraska; Madison, Wisconsin; Davenport, Iowa; Bloomington, Illinois, and Tucson, Arizona.

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