Many people in western North Carolina are mourning the loss of longtime Asheville Citizen-Times reporter and editor Tony Kiss, who died Aug. 17 after a brief illness. Kiss was 68.
Kiss started his journalism career in 1976 at his hometown paper, the Kingsport Times-News, in eastern Tennessee. He started working at the Asheville Citizen-Times in 1984 and stayed there until 2016. He later worked at the Mountain Xpress. He died of complications due to diabetes, his sister, Mary Kiss, told the Citizen-Times.
Many knew Kiss as “The Beer Guy,” a moniker earned from his personal passion for beer that led him to craft a career in journalism steeped in beer before it was trendy or widely understood or respected, Highland Brewing founder Oscar Wong told the local newspaper.
Wong, a pioneer of Asheville’s craft beer scene, met Kiss the same year of founding the city’s first brewery in 1994. The two remained close friends over the years. Asheville’s burgeoning brewing community owes a portion of its success to Kiss.
“We got to be quite good friends, and he’s been very, very helpful from the early days when nobody knew what craft brewing was or craft beer was,” Wong told the Citizen-Times. “He was an aficionado from the very beginning. He’s been a strong supporter of the whole industry, and he’s been very instrumental in Asheville becoming Beer City, USA.”
In Asheville, Kiss became the paper’s entertainment and leisure activities reporter and then its entertainment editor. In February 2002, Kiss published the first installation of his column “The Beer Guy” in ACT’s Living section. It ran for 14 years.
Click here to read the obituary story written by his former employer.