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Erik Leroy Ness

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Erik Leroy Ness Obituary
Erik Leroy Ness, 57, a long time native New Mexico newsman, passed away on Saturday, May 12, 2012. He was born and raised in Alamogordo during the height of the Space Race. Both parents, Carl and Marie Ness were involved in that endeavor.
He graduated from Alamogordo High School in 1972, learning from teachers who inspired him to be a writer. His memory of seeing the Wonderful World of Disney in color on television also sparked an acute interest in radio and television broadcasting. He attended the University of New Mexico until his brains grew in, and he was lured by the smell of alfalfa and a really good journalism department to New Mexico State University.
At NMSU, he was part of their legendary film program under the direction of Dr. Orville Wanzer and produced a long series of black and white and color films. While attending NMSU, he worked as operations manager for radio station KGRT and was one of the founders of campus radio station KNMS, "Ozone Ranger Radio."
He also served as a news stringer for Albuquerque news stations KOB, KOAT and KGGM, and was a southern New Mexico correspondent for 50,000-watt KKOB radio.
Outside of journalism, Erik worked on more than 100 political campaigns, including the position of press secretary for Attorney General of New Mexico.
After graduating from NMSU, he worked as news director for KDQQ and KKOB radio as news reporter and anchorman. In 1981, he was went to work for New Mexico Farm Bureau as their director of communications and media relations, where he was twice recognized as the nation's most effective agriculture public relations spokesman. He was also the recipient of numerous national awards for broadcast commentary, broadcast features and broadcast news productions.
In addition, he received many awards for his print writing skills and unusual "wordsmithing." He also worked for the American Farm Bureau Federation as a national broadcast commentator on the groundbreaking radio show "Insight!"
Many of Erik's commentaries were used by Paul Harvey on his ABC broadcast. He served as president of New Mexico Press Club and the Advertising Federation of Southern New Mexico. He also served as a board member of Cowboys for Cancer Research.
He retired from the New Mexico Farm Bureau in 2010, but continued to write columns for the National Farm Bureau in addition to media consulting for the Elephant Butte Irrigation District.
Erik was an award-winning songwriter, music producer and recording artist. He worked with many of the nation's leading songwriters and bands in the Southwest and Nashville. He's the winner of the American Collegiate Talent Search, which was judged by singer/songwriter Michael Martin Murphy. At that time he and Murphy became close friends, collaborators, conspirators and calculators in the world of cowboy and country music. He was able to travel with Murphy across the country and experience all sides of music and the show business world.
Erik and Murph just finished their latest song together, "Law and Order on the Border." Most of Erik's recording was done at the legendary studio Goldust in Las Cruces, under the tutelage of recording engineer and producer Emmett Brooks.
Erik was preceded in death by his parents, Carl and Marie Ness, of Alamogordo.
He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Sharon Sumner; sons Erik and Garrett of the family home; daughter Emily Gaffney and her husband, Thomas, and grandson Conner, of Albuquerque; sisters Caryl Ann Gutheinz and her husband, Lee, of Albuquerque, and Linda Gulley and her husband, Jim, of Alamogordo.
An agricultural communications scholarship fund has been set up in Ness' honor. Memorials can be sent to New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, 2220 N. Telshor Blvd., Las Cruces, Attention: "Erik Ness Memorial Scholarship Fund."
Published in Alamogordo Daily News from June 3 to July 2, 2012
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