Sharon Kessinger started her career in journalism at the Pryor Creek Daily Times in Pryor Creek, Oklahoma after she graduated from Kansas State University with her degree in journalism in 1959. She was born in 1937 to Pearl and Owen Totten in the back of their hardware store in Winifred, Kansas. Growing up in rural northeast Kansas, Sharon was inspired by family influences like her uncle Gale Totten who spent much of his life traveling and working as a radio operator on airplanes. In 1955, Sharon met Howard Kessinger at K-State, where they both studied journalism. Howard and Sharon both worked as advertising directors of their student newspaper, the Collegian. Unlike her future husband, Sharon was the first journalist in her family – it was not a career she had ever planned to pursue, but ultimately chose because of the opportunity it presented to study a broad range of subjects. After college, she worked for the Pryor Creek Times for two years before getting a job offer closer to home as the news editor at the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle. In 1962, Sharon married Howard and moved to Oberlin, where the two eventually purchased the Oberlin Herald. They operated the Herald for 12 years and went on to purchase the Marysville Advocate in 1975. They served as co-publishers for 35 years and raised their three daughters and son in the newspaper business, playing an influential role the community of Marysville. Their second daughter, Sarah, currently owns the Advocate and serves as editor-publisher.