Former Leader publisher moved newspaper, town into new era

Dec 1, 2021

John Goossen, pictured above at an Iowa Newspaper Association convention in 2017, had been general manager of Times Citizen Communications in Iowa Falls since 2010. He died of a sudden illness Sept. 29, 2021, at the age of 67. (Photo Courtesy Iowa Newspaper Association)

Editor | Iowa Falls Times-Citizen

John Goossen was a newspaperman through and through, having built a 40-year career at publications in Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa. But the Times Citizen Communications general manager, who died last week at the age of 67, is being remembered not just for his contributions to the media industry, but for his empowering leadership, unwavering devotion and willingness to help, whether that was as a mentor, volunteer, outdoorsman, friend or father.

For the last 11 years of his life, Goossen, a native of Nebraska, led Times Citizen Communications. He oversaw operations of the company’s local media products — the Iowa Falls Times-Citizen, the Ackley World Journal, The Advertiser and KIFG Radio — as well as a printing press and a farm publication advertising sales team. His arrival in Iowa Falls in 2010 followed a three-year stint as publisher of the Ames (Iowa) Tribune. At the Times Citizen, Goossen guided the company through an era of great success and difficult challenges.

“When John came from Ames to Iowa Falls, we had instant chemistry — as a company, as a newspaper team, as a community and, most especially, as a friend,” Times Citizen President and Publisher Mark Hamilton said. “John’s Midwestern roots made for a unique partnership.”

Under Goossen’s leadership, the local newspapers won dozens of state and national awards, and the company grew its presence in the farm publication world, expanding into new U.S. states and digital products. He also guided Times Citizen Communications through difficult times, leading the response to a 2019 ransomware attack on the company, and more recently, responding to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But John Goossen’s leadership went beyond Iowa Falls. He was an active member of the Iowa Newspaper Association and Foundation, serving on the Foundation board for eight years, including a one-year stint as its president. He frequently helped with the organization’s leadership training institute, speaking with up-and-coming professionals about the ins and outs of the business. In 2012, he received the association’s most prestigious honor: the Master Editor-Publisher award.

“Any time we needed help, John said yes,” INA Executive Director Susan Patterson Plank said. “It could be something as small as handing out plaques at the convention or helping a colleague with an issue. He was truly one of those people that anybody, if they needed something, they just asked him.”

At each stop of his career, Goossen gave of his time to civic organizations. In Iowa Falls, he was a member of the Rotary Club and served on the Iowa Falls Area Development Corporation board. He also made time to mentor students in the Iowa Falls schools. He met weekly with the students, often over his lunch hour. And he kept up the relationships, continuing his weekly meetings and special outings even as the kids grew up and changed schools.

“He was so good with them, so patient,” said Nikki Allen, a success coach at Rock Run Elementary School and coordinator of the district’s mentoring program. “The connection that he formed with those kids stood out to me. He was willing to stay with a child until they no longer wanted him.”

When he wasn’t working or volunteering, Goossen’s favorite place to be was outside, whether that was time spent with his three grandchildren, or his favorite pastime: hunting and training dogs. Goossen was a member and officer in the Mid Iowa Retriever Club and had been an avid hunter, dog owner and trainer for most of his life. In 2016, he spoke with the Times Citizen for a story about his trip to Vermont to compete in the National Amateur Retriever Championships.

The people who knew John Goossen speak about the care he showed for coworkers, friends and family. He was attentive, interested and supportive.

“When you were talking to John, he was leaning in and listening. I mean that in a physical way and in an emotional way,” Patterson Plank said. “He focused on connecting with the person who was in front of him. He was authentic.”

“He was a professional,” Hamilton said. “He was a mentor to everybody. I will truly miss him.”

Goossen is survived by his wife, Tracy, who lives in Iowa Falls, the couple’s three adult daughters, and three grandchildren. Funeral services are pending.