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Sun-Times vice president was ‘a mentor to everyone’

Courtney Price

Courtney Price

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Updated: January 8, 2013 6:34AM

Courtney Price took on her first major marketing challenge at age 13, when she opened a summer day care center on her parents’ patio in Lincoln Park.

Her father was skeptical, warning her it would not be easy to get customers, but she sold out the allotted spaces in 30 minutes.

“She always had a sense of what would sell,” said her mother, Kathy Price.

Ms. Price grew up to become part of the team that launched the Discover Card and went on to senior marketing jobs at Citibank, United Airlines and Trans Union before joining the Chicago Sun-Times, where she became vice president of audience development.

After a 30-month battle with metastatic breast cancer, Ms. Price died Wednesday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital with her husband and two young daughters at her side. She was 49.

Howard Korey remembered his wife’s strength and elegance and how her smile could light up a room.

“The last two spring breaks, we took the girls to London, Paris, Barcelona and Madrid. We wanted to share our love of travel with them,” he said.

“We had a great life together. It ended too soon,” he said.

Ms. Price came to the Sun-Times in 2006 and worked to maintain circulation of Sun-Times newspapers through a turbulent period that saw the company go through three different ownerships and a bankruptcy.

“That was obviously a very challenging time. Her leadership was pivotal for us,” said Bob Edwards, senior director of audience development who worked for Ms. Price.

“She was able to keep the team focused and moving forward. She knew what she wanted, but she was definitely open to ideas. She didn’t stifle creativity, and she was a mentor to everyone who worked for her,” he said.

During this period, Ms. Price played a key role in the Sun-Times’ move to digital platforms such as the Kindle and Nook e-readers.

Ms. Price also oversaw the company’s outsourcing of circulation customer service and supervised the transfer of Sun-Times newspaper distribution and delivery to the Chicago Tribune.

In addition, she worked with the Audit Bureau of Circulation to change the way that agency counted the Sun-Times’ circulation. Instead of counting Sun-Times Media publications individually, the ABC now totals their combined print and digital circulation as one number.

This vaulted the Sun-Times into the No. 1 spot in Chicago area for average weekday circulation.

Most recently, Ms. Price directed the Sun-Times’ licensing efforts.

“She approached her job with a great deal of enthusiasm for how we can best serve all of our readers,” said Timothy P. Knight, Sun-Times publisher and CEO of the Sun-Times’ parent, Wrapports. “Courtney was a wonderful friend and mentor to many people.”

Jeremy Halbreich, former chairman of the board and CEO of Sun-Times Media, called Ms. Price “an extraordinary individual, always thoughtful, insightful, highly engaged and enthusiastic.”

“She was the perfect mix of steely determination and elegant grace, whether facing business challenges or her own personal health issues,” Halbreich said.

“Courtney was always one of my favorite people at the Sun-Times,” Donald Hayner, the Sun-Times former editor in chief, said in an email to Price’s family. “She was a wonderful person to be around, always enthusiastic and optimistic.”

A resident of the Lake View neighborhood, Ms. Price moved to Chicago from Oak Park with her family when she was 8.

She took sewing lessons and as an eighth-grader was featured in a Chicago Tribune photo modeling a backpack she had sewn out of a denim jacket.

She also took ballet lessons and developed a lifelong love for that art, continuing to take lessons as an adult.

A graduate of Chicago’s Latin School, she earned a B.S. in finance from Babson College, then went to work for Discover.

Ms. Price met her husband on a blind date in 1992.

After successfully negotiating the religious differences between her Catholic and his Jewish faith, they were married by a priest and a rabbi in 1995 at the Newberry Library.

They had two daughters, Jillian, 14, and Adrienne, 10. Both girls are honor roll students.

Diagnosed with cancer, Ms. Price remained positive.

“She handled it very bravely, she was at work a week ago,” her mother said. “She was always optimistic; she was very strong.”

Other survivors include her brother, Evan Price, and a niece, Amanda.

Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at Drake and Sons Funeral Home, 5303 N. Western. A funeral mass will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Clement Catholic Church, 642 W. Deming Place.

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