The staff of the Belleville News-Democrat is mourning the loss of a respected colleague and friend who died of an apparent heart attack early Wednesday during a run in Centennial Park in Swansea.
Steve Mainer, 56, of Belleville, was an employee of the News-Democrat for 32 years. He was an editor on the continuous news desk, producing the newspaper and website late into the evening hours.
“Our newsroom is stunned by Steve’s death,” said Jeffry Couch, the BND’s executive editor. “Many of his colleagues and friends still find it difficult to comprehend.
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“The BND won't be the same without him. Steve was well-liked, fun to work with and respected by everyone. And he was an excellent editor. He was unflappable under pressure, just the kind of journalist you want sitting in an editor’s chair. He will be missed.”
Steve was well-liked, fun to work with and respected by everyone. And he was an excellent editor. He was unflappable under pressure, just the kind of journalist you want sitting in an editor’s chair. He will be missed.
Jeffry Couch, executive editor, Belleville News-Democrat
St. Clair County Coroner Rick Stone said Friday the investigation into Mainer’s death is not complete. But he believes the most likely cause was a heart attack with the extreme heat Wednesday as a contributing factor.
The high Wednesday reached 98 degrees with a heat index of 105.
Mainer, an avid runner who competed in marathons, was found about 8:15 a.m. Wednesday along the running trail at Centennial Park.
Stone said while Mainer was likely trying to avoid the heat of the middle of the day by getting in an early run, it was still oppressively hot during the morning hours.
According to the National Weather Service, the temperature was 84 degrees with 79 percent humidity at 8 a.m. Wednesday, with a heat index of 90.
Current and former News-Democrat employees remembered Mainer fondly after learning of his passing.
“An incredibly even-tempered and nice guy,” cartoonist Glenn McCoy wrote on Facebook. “So sad to learn of this.”
Reporter Mary Cooley worked closely with Mainer on the desk.
“Steve was one of those behind the scenes in the newsroom, and was not one to loudly proclaim his work,” Cooley said. “But when he’d catch an especially egregious error, there would be a quiet snort or a grunt, and you'd hear a flurry of keystrokes. I'll miss him.”
Former News-Democrat reporter David van den Berg wrote:
“My condolences to everyone at the News-Democrat and those who are no longer there but have fond memories of Steve. He was a good man.”
Graveside services will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Alton. The Rev. James Lampley will officiate.
Memorials may be made to the Godfrey Church of Christ, American Heart Association, the 5A’s Animal Shelter in Alton or a memorial of one’s choice.
Gent Funeral Home in Alton is in charge of arrangements. Information is available at www.gentfuneralhome.com.