“My father, lived, breathed, ate, drank and slept the paper. It’s not a business. It’s a life.” – Richard Kayatt
By Joshua Rosenau
Ed Kayatt, founder and publisher of Our Town, died Sunday afternoon at the age of 90 at his home on the Upper East Side.
Family, friends and colleagues remembered Kayatt as a vehement defender of the interests of Our Town’s readers over the span of his 30-year career as leader of the paper.
Kayatt was inexperienced in newspapers when he started Our Town in 1970, but he grew the paper by focusing on local problems – from negligent landlords to crooked car mechanics to animal abuse.
“Anybody could walk in. If you had a problem with your landlord, a justifiable problem, he’d be on the front page the next week,” son Richard Kayatt said.
Richard Kayatt served as an assistant publisher alongside his father at the paper’s inception.
Manhattan Media acquired the company in 1990. Straus News purchased it in January.
Irving Lepselter spent 15 years working under Kayatt, crafting the ‘Cityscape’ series of editorial cartoons.
Lepselter said that he remembered Kayatt as a hard-nosed newspaperman with a soft spot for animals.
“He had an office filled with creatures, with dogs he would take in and cats he would take in,” he said. “It looked like it was an animal shelter.”
Arlene Kayatt, ex-wife and former investigative reporter at Our Town, described Kayatt as a firm but fair man, who commanded respect.
“People respected him, but they also knew they didn’t want to do the wrong thing because they knew they’d be called on it.”
Kayatt’s longtime companion Nancy Sexton was distraught over the loss.
Kayatt is survived by daughters Stacy, Julia, and Linda; and sons Richard, Michael and Lawrence.
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