CLEVELAND — Michael Heaton, the Plain Dealer features reporter who wrote the “Minister of Culture” column for three decades, has died, according to his friend Mike McIntyre, the executive editor of Ideastream Public Media. He was 66 years old.
Goodbye my friend. Minister of Culture. Master of Discarded Metal. Loyal friend. Proud father. Court jester. Wag. Reliable wingman. Seeker of happiness. “It’s a joke, don’t you get it?”@MichaelHeaton5 pic.twitter.com/CZm3QmHswD— Mike McIntyre (@MichaelMcIntyre) September 19, 2022
Heaton’s Plain Dealer career spanned 31 years and over 1,400 columns, with his byline a fixture in the newspaper’s Friday! section. His retirement in late 2018 preceded the newspaper’s move to rid itself of a unionized workforce.
In a 2012 interview with News 5, Heaton said of his writing, “Things just strike me as funny. So many things that I see, I’m like, ‘That can’t be real,’ and I just try to address the things that amuse me, and almost everything does.”
In his farewell piece, Heaton wrote:
“I don't remember whose idea it was for this column. The goal was to write entertainingly about entertainment. I always wanted to examine what our choices said about us a culture.”
The Heaton name is well-known among area readers and in Cleveland journalism circles. Michael’s father Chuck was a Plain Dealer sportswriter for 50 years. Michael's sister, Patricia, is an actress and comedian.
“We had a very funny family,” Michael told News 5 in 2012. “Laughs were very important to us. My mom died when we were very young. She died in 1971. I was 14. Patty was 12. It was a tough thing to go through. Humor really helped us through it, to find the humor when things are not so funny.”
You can watch more from the interview in the player below: