CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Chris Stadelman, a longtime West Virginia newspaper editor who became chief of staff for former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, has died.
A 48-year-old extrovert who had friends across the state, Stadelman battled cancer the past several years.
“He was a true gentleman, a great journalist,” Tomblin said this morning on the telephone. “He was very well respected by the media. He did a fantastic job for me as communications director and the last couple of years as my chief of staff. He was a remarkable man. He’ll be sadly missed.”
Tomblin admired Stadelman for remaining diligent at his job even as he was underwent treatment.
“It’s a sad day, and he fought a tough battle,” Tomblin said. “Throughout his treatments, he never missed work, he never let it interfere. I admired him greatly going through the illness he had. It’s sad. We’re all going to miss him.”
I went to Marshall University with Chris and worked with him for about a decade at the Charleston Daily Mail. So I asked the former governor if he’d ever seen Stadelman at a loss for words. I already knew the answer.
“Never. Never. Had a great sense of humor. He was just one of those people you liked to be around,” Tomblin said. “He was a remarkable person. It’s so sad to lose him at such a young age.”
Statements of admiration for Stadelman were flowing in this morning from many who knew him.
.@ChrisStadelman RIP Chris Stadelman: Professional, fine man, good friend. He battled cancer courageously and was an inspiration.
— Hoppy Kercheval (@HoppyKercheval) May 11, 2018
A shining light has been extinguished far too soon. He has fought the good fight. He has finished the race. He has kept the faith. He leaves us all with a stirring legacy of achievement, dedication and service. Pax vobiscum, Chris.
— Lawrence Messina (@lmessina) May 11, 2018
@ChrisStadelman was my friend. He fought harder than anyone I have ever met. His attitude upon diagnosis and inspiration he gave others was incredible. We have all lost a good man. Tell the people you love and admire your feelings today.
— Wendy Radcliff (@Wendy25302) May 11, 2018
I loved friendly arguments with @ChrisStadelman, because he enjoyed them, made me think, and didn’t make it personal. Learned a lot from him. Admired how he carried newspaperman’s belief in open government into his gvt service. His love of life was a great example for all of us. https://t.co/UYpHOIWYRz
— Kenwardjr (@Kenwardjr) May 11, 2018
Stadelman had been open about his battle with cancer, speaking about the importance of colorectal cancer screening both as a government official who could shape the public agenda and as someone going through a struggle.
“I’m going to run the disease,” he said in a 2014 Charleston Daily Mail interview. “I am not going to let it run me. I’ve always been a little stubborn.”
Just this month, he wrote an essay for the CAMC Foundation, urging continued support of “Run for Your Life,” an annual run/walk aimed at raising awareness of colorectal cancer while also raising money to help pay for screenings.
“When the time comes, it’s my goal to also die on my own terms. I want to maintain control of what I can, even as the number of those things shrinks,” he wrote. “I also hope that by spreading the word about screenings and early detection of colorectal cancer.”
In addition to his many years of work at The Charleston Daily Mail, Stadelman and his wife Kelly owned and ran the Parsons Advocate in Tucker County. And he and Kelly owned Stadelman Consulting, a public relations firm.
Last year, he was inducted into the School of Journalism and Mass Communications Hall of Fame at Marshall University, an event that also served as a celebration of his life.
Nanya Friend, longtime editor of The Charleston Daily Mail, offered her own appreciation of Stadelman this morning:
“Chris was one of the finest journalists I ever worked with, but that was just one facet of an incredibly accomplished life.
“The Daily Mail snagged him from Marshall, where he was a Yeager Scholar. He shot up through our ranks like a rocket, starting as a reporting intern. He was a quick study on any subject and had a warmly magnetic personality.
He was our dynamic managing editor when he left to take on new challenges. He left a huge gap, but it was inspiring to watch the new chapters in his career unfold.
“I was only one of many who claimed him as a best friend. He loved people and touched countless lives. When he spotted talent, he didn’t sit back and watch. He acted, pointing people to jobs and helping secure them.
“While his professional accomplishments were many, Chris also was a loving son, brother and, most of all, husband. His wife, Kelly, was the perfect partner. It was fun to see the joy they took in the adventurous life they shared.”