Thu, July 26, 2007
By JOYANNE PURSAGA, SUN MEDIA
A Winnipeg entrepreneur who turned a coffee-break idea into a global success story has passed away at the age of 56.
Jean Daum created Coffee News after she had nothing to read but sugar packets while drinking coffee in a Winnipeg restaurant.
She lost her battle with lymphoma Monday night.
“She passed away very peacefully with her family at home,” said daughter Leslie Daum yesterday.
Coffee News — a one-page, double-sided sheet full of good news and quotes — has since spread to 1,000 franchises in 52 countries.
The free sheet of uplifting tidbits was first posted in Winnipeg restaurants in 1988 and maintains its worldwide headquarters in East Selkirk.
Jean continued to work until just six months ago.
She had also begun a book about her life with cancer that her family hopes to publish.
“She’s a role model and I followed in her footsteps completely,” said Leslie. “She never gave up.”
But the success did not come easily. A community paper Jean started in 1982 folded 2.5 years later, eventually leaving the single mom to Leslie, Candice and Jim thousands of dollars in debt.
“She went from being so broke that we ate crab apple pie for six months to being a millionaire because of one idea,” said Leslie.
FAMILY VENTURE AT CORE
Despite its growth as an affordable advertising option, Coffee News remains a family venture at its core.
Leslie and Candice not only run parts of the company but also write most of its content.
But the task of carrying on their mother’s legacy can be daunting.
“I don’t think anyone could quite fill those shoes. There was pretty much nothing she couldn’t do,” said Candice Daum.
Candice said Jean was an inspiration to her three children, boyfriend Paul Janzen and plenty of colleagues.
“She’d been battling cancer for years, so we always assumed she’d beat it,” said close friend Wayne Browning. “She was a very progressive thinker. She was young when she passed but she had done so much.”
Bill Buckley, a Coffee News U.S. franchisee, said he marvelled at Daum’s ingenuity as a single Winnipeg mom who believed in her idea and stuck with it.
“We probably have eight to 10 million readers a week. What started as a little weekly publication in Winnipeg is now the largest franchise publication in the world,” said Buckley.
SOURCE: Winnipeg Sun