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Past publisher of Santa Fe New Mexican dies at 63

SANTA FE, N.M. — Ginny Sohn, the former publisher of the Santa Fe New Mexican and longtime leader in the city’s business community, died Monday at age 63 at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Ginny Sohn

Ginny Sohn

“Ginny was one of the most caring, generous, vital people I have ever known,” said close friend and opera singer Gina Browning, a sentiment echoed by others who knew her well.

Simon Brackley, head of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, where Sohn served on the board of directors, said he enjoyed getting together with her “to laugh and gossip and discuss the issues of the day.”

She was “very committed to the community and to the newspaper business,” he added.

“She recognized that part of the newspaper’s job was to serve its advertisers with a quality product, and that meant working toward a healthy economy, and the role of the media in that,” said Brackley.

Sohn had a three-decade career at the New Mexican and became publisher of the daily in 2012 after holding other positions there in the business and advertising operations. Also in 2012, she served as president of the New Mexico Press Association.

When she was publisher, the New Mexican won three straight best large paper awards from the Press Association, and she brought a real estate magazine into the paper. She earlier had led production of the New Mexican’s special section magazines.

Sohn began her advertising career in New York and came to Santa Fe to be with family members here, friends say.

Lillian Montoya, chief operating officer at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, struck up an instant, deep friendship with Sohn after Brackley introduced her about four years ago. They immediately decided to go on a trip to the south of France together.

“Ginny was ferocious about life and news and reading and she was curious and had an amazing laugh and just really loved people and great conversation,” said Montoya. “She never shied away from anything, from the easy stuff to the hard stuff.”

Sohn was “wicked smart,” said Montoya, and as a leader in the community “she took the time to really get to know people, the politics, the things that matter in the Santa Fe community.”

“She’d go to board meetings, community events, arts and culture events, to really mix up her crowds,” said Montoya.

Her friends describe Sohn as totally dedicated to her son, Sage Shahi, a student at Montana State. After leaving the New Mexican in 2014, Sohn started a consulting firm and worked with the Albuquerque Publishing Co., which publishes the Albuquerque Journal and Journal North.

Browning said she and her husband Joseph Illick are endowing an annual scholarship in Sohn’s name to help a local public school graduate defray college expenses. “She was a straight shooter who solved all problems at work and in her personal life with utmost delicacy and integrity,” Browning said.

A memorial for Sohn will be held at a future date.

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