The editor and publisher of Alaska’s Oldest Newspaper died Thursday morning after fighting a battle with cancer, just shy of her 73rd birthday.
McGuire was born in 1943 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1965 with a master’s in education as a biology major; she then taught in high school and university classrooms in her home state before moving to Nome in 1973.
In Nome, McGuire first worked for the University of Alaska–Fairbanks Northwest Campus. In her early years in town, she also worked for the Norton Sound Health Corporation regional hospital and with the Alaska Science Foundation. McGuire volunteered for many years, the Nugget reports, as an EMT with the Nome Volunteer Ambulance Department; she is also credited with forming the first internet service provider in Nome, nome.net.
McGuire got her start at the Nugget as a part-time reporter. Her tenure as the head of the Nome weekly newspaper, from 1982 onwards, endured for nearly half of her lifetime — and led to her being awarded the Alaska Press Club First Amendment Award in 2012.
She built a rapport with Nugget readers, in part, through weekly editorials, which were often platforms for frank opinions on current affairs or politics in Nome, the state of Alaska, or the nation. The last of McGuire’s editorials was published on Thursday, November 17, the same day as her death, and was both a defense of the editorial form itself and a valediction to her readers. “An effective editorial starts the reader thinking. That’s its job. I hope my editorials have done that—stimulated thought about what has been happening—bad or good—for our community over the 34 years I have been editor and publisher of The Nome Nugget,” McGuire wrote. “I have loved Nome and the folks in our community and our village neighbors since the day I took over in 1982. I must depart soon. I will bid an affectionate farewell to all.”
McGuire battled cancer for over a decade. With her passing, the Nugget will continue under private ownership, according to the newspaper’s obituary for McGuire.
A funeral Mass will be held for Nancy McGuire on Saturday, November 19th at 2pm at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Nome.