Steve Marschke, an entrepreneur who valued the importance of newspapers to the communities they serve and publisher of the News-Ledger in West Sacramento, died April 8 of cancer. He was 51.
Mr. Marschke spent almost 30 years at the News-Ledger, starting when he was a student at UC Davis. He went on to be editor and took over as owner of the weekly newspaper after the death of co-founder Michael Garten in 2005.
He worked long days and wore many hats at the News-Ledger, which was founded by Garten and West Sacramento native Julius Feher in 1964. Besides writing most news stories, he introduced computers to lay out pages, updated billing and circulation operations, and increased profits by expanding legal advertising, features editor Daryl Fisher said.
“Steve modernized and brought the paper into the 20th century,” Fisher said. “It was all on a shoestring budget, but he brought professionalism to it.”
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Mr. Marschke insisted on fairness and accuracy in editorial operations, Fisher said. He interviewed newsmakers, covered public events and wrote about local issues in West Sacramento, including business, crime, development, schools and sports.
He started a Facebook page for the News-Ledger, attended community meetings and spoke about journalism at local schools.
“It was so important to him to keep the paper relevant to the community,” his stepdaughter Sarah Jane Fourness said. “He really liked reaching out.”
Born in 1963 to a physician and nurse in Santa Monica, Steven Keith Marschke grew up in Westlake Village and graduated from high school in Agoura. He earned a history degree from UC Davis and was a talented writer who penned thoughtful letters to the editor at the News-Ledger that led to a position as a part-time reporter.
A curious and intelligent young man, he loved reading and writing and he played the clarinet, saxophone and classical guitar, said his mother, Joyce. He rode bicycles with one of his brothers from Canada to the Mexican border in high school, she said. He rowed with the crew team at UC Davis and was active in recent years with the River City Rowing Club.
A Davis resident, Mr. Marschke married Cynthia Seaman and helped raise her two daughters from a previous marriage. He was “a funny man who loved to tease us” and an excellent cook who made “amazing dishes,” Fourness said.
He loved sailing with his wife on trips to Catalina Island, the Bay Area and the Charles River in Boston. They were married for 17 years, until her death from a sudden illness in 2013.
“He never got over it,” his mother said. “But he was very private. When he got cancer, very few people knew about it. He kept plugging along and had hoped he would be able to get over it with radiation and chemo.”
In addition to his mother and Sarah Jane Fourness, Mr. Marschke is survived by another stepdaughter, Laura Fourness; his father, Gerald: two brothers, Jerry and Craig; and a sister, Susan.
A memorial service is set for 2 p.m. Friday at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 1701 L St., Sacramento. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to River City Rowing Club. Information about the service is at stevenmemorial.wordpress.com.
Call The Bee’s Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Davila.