Mike Gackle, 71, a devoted family man, an innovator in the newspaper industry and a lifelong booster of Garrison and McLean County, died May 25, 2023 after a four-year battle with cancer and heart disease. A summer celebration of his life is being planned.
Mike was born March 18, 1952 to Don and Phyllis Gackle at Fort George Meade, Maryland. Later the family lived in Fargo before moving in 1963 with Mike and his sister Cindy. Mike started working at the family newspaper, the McLean County Independent, in his pre-teens.
While attending NDSU, Dakota Business College and UND, Mike applied his business and management skills to the newspaper back home during weekend and summers. Then after college he returned to work for the company.
He married Michele Henderson of Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1973 and they settled in Garrison. Together they had three children, Chantal, Paul and Patrick. They divorced in 1986.
Mike was chief financial officer and later president of the growing family newspaper business, BHG Inc. The company grew to include newspapers in Garrison, Beulah, Hazen, Underwood, Center, Washburn, Turtle Lake, McClusky, Parshall, New Town, Velva and at the Minot Air Force Base. At the time of his retirement, the company’s printing plant in Garrison printed more than 40 newspapers in western North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.
Mike met his wife, Jill Denning, when she was executive director of the North Dakota Newspaper Association. They married in 1988 and had son, Daniel, in 1992. Jill joined Mike at BHG in 1995 and they managed the company together until they retired in March 2022.
He was president of the North Dakota Newspaper Association in 2004 and served on the board of the North Dakota Education Foundation. He was inducted into the North Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame in May 2023, just the 58th inductee to receive the honor in 90 years. His dad was previously inducted into the Hall.
Mike was a leader in helping North Dakota newspapers bring new digital technology into their operations, and was behind the scenes in saving several North Dakota newspapers that were destined for closure. He also was an early adapter at BHG’s printing plant, notably being among the first in the country to install technology that allowed remote newspapers to electronically transfer files from their home offices to the printing plant.
He served on many different boards, and among his favorites were the Garrison Area Improvement Association and Garrison’s Better Living for Living, He was an elder of the First Congregational UCC in Garrison and past president of the Garrison Chamber of Commerce. He was named Garrison Citizen of the Year in 2010.
Although his work and boards were great passions of Mike’s, his family was his source of pride and love. Whether it was fishing on Lake Sakakawea with them or hearing about their latest adventures, he felt like the luckiest man in the world to have his family’s love.
Survivors include his wife Jill; children, Chantal (Greg) of Irvine, California and grandchildren Thea, Ava and Scarlet; Paul of Winnipeg, Canada; Patrick of Palm Springs, California; and Daniel (Kerri) of Garrison and grandchildren Lilah and Mabel; and sister Cindy (Randy Helland) of Lake Elmo, Minnesota.
Preceding him in death were his parents.
If desired, memorials may be made to Better Living for Garrison, P.O. Box 445, Garrison, ND 58540.
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