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Cynthia Johnson, Forum News Service, Published August 06 2013

Former Fargo radio personality dies in surgery

GRAND FORKS – Hundreds showed their support Tuesday for former Grand Forks-area radio host Kerri Drees, the day after she died.

“We’ve been getting texts and emails and phone calls and the outpouring of support has been amazing just from everybody that we’ve talked to,” said Josh Jones, Drees’ co-host of the morning show on QFM, which is broadcast from Grand Forks.

According to a Facebook post Monday by Jones, Drees died that morning in surgery while having a lap band removed. She was 47.

“We’re all pretty numb around here still about the whole deal,” Jones said Tuesday.

On Monday, Friends, family, co-workers and fans gathered in Thrive Community Church in Grand Forks and shared their favorite memories of Drees.

The group of about 80 spoke of a woman who brought a special energy to each day, and greeted everybody with a smile and a hug.

Phil Ehlke, general manager of QFM, said Drees was someone who loved being around people, and had a talent for making friends with everyone in the room. He said he spent three hours Tuesday answering emails from listeners.

“We’re getting feedback from people who are saying ‘Yes, I made a commitment in my life because of Kerri Drees,’ so that’s pretty amazing.”

A mentor

A veteran of Christian radio, Drees began working in January 2011 at QFM, which has offices in Fosston, Minn., and Bemidji, Minn. She had previously worked at radio station Power 92 in Fargo.

Beth Waldeck met Drees about three years ago when she started working at the radio station.

“When I met her, I knew from the start it was going to be a special relationship,” Waldeck said.

She said Drees became a mentor to her, helping her learn “more than the ins and outs of radio,” but also about God and life.

Drees is a Detroit Lakes, Minn., native. She is survived by her husband, Steve, and children, Tanisha and Savanna.

Her visitation has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Hope Evangelical Covenant Church in Grand Forks. The funeral starts at 1 p.m. and is open to the public. QFM says visitors may bring a cross to place on the casket.

Instead of donating flowers, Jones said her fans should make donations in her honor to Shine the Light Inc. and Circle of Friends Humane Society.

Forum News Service reporter Robb Jeffries contributed to this story.