Fuhrmann leaves a lasting impression
By Jean Faucher
On May 16, longtime Clintonville resident Bernice Fuhrmann could be seen tending to a row of freshly planted hibiscus.
Fuhrmann loves flowers, birds and working on projects without deadlines.
May 16 was his first official day of retirement after a 50-year newspaper career.
Forty-six of those years were with the Clintonville-Tribune Gazette.
how it started
In 1972, Fuhrmann was hired at WTCH Radio in Shawano, which at the time shared its property and office with the Shawano Leader.
Bernice worked for both, helping with everything from selling radio ads to checking and pasting newspaper pages.
In 1973, her husband Gene took a job with FWD in Clintonville. The couple soon moved to Clintonville and started a family there.
In 1974, their daughter Rachel was born.
In 1976 the economy stagnated and Gene was laid off. Bernice, who had stayed home briefly after Rachel’s birth, was hired at the Clintonville-Tribune Gazette by owners Walt and Arleen Gleason.
The Gleasons purchased the newspaper in 1951 with partners and acquired full ownership of the TG in 1953.
They owned the newspaper until their retirement in January 1994.
Bernice recalls an interview with Walter Gleason in 1991 on his 40th anniversary of owning the TG.
In the interview, Gleason explained that the newspaper plays many roles in the community.
“We have to be part cheerleader, part critic, part advocate, and of course, fundamentally a clearing house,” Gleason said.
Fuhrmann remembers the dedication it took to publish an article every week in the old days.
The equipment used and the physical publishing process have changed.
When she started at the TG, some of the original equipment at the back was still in use from the start of the journal in 1879.
“We had a little hand press since the 1800s. Our letter opener is from the 1800s. We called it the guillotine,” she laughed. “It still worked.”
They had a linotype machine and did a significant amount of printing work on various presses at the back of the building. She remembers that they printed everything from business cards to posters to phone books.
“The phone book was important to us,” Fuhrmann said.
In 1976, the actual printing of the broadsheet was outsourced to an off-site web press. However, they continued to do all typesetting, layout, film developing, splicing, and platemaking in-house.
“I probably did everything except run the press,” Fuhrmann said. “At the time, I changed my service a lot.”
She worked in the darkroom for a while, filming the finished pages and developing them to make the plates.
When needed, she grabbed the camera and took pictures, covered news events, and ran the labeling papers from the addressgraph machine.
“Sometimes I even ended up driving the van with the plates to the printer. And you waited for them to be printed, you brought them back to send out or distribute them on newsstands,” she said.
“When we were lacking in certain departments, everyone did the right thing,” Fuhrmann said. “Someone had to do it.”
Newspaper publishing equipment has undergone major changes.
“At the time, the linotype machine was the great revolution. Previously, it was lead letters and individual letters that were placed in them with tweezers. With the linotype, you could define an entire line of characters at a time, an entire slug. After that they went to photoelectric and then they went to real computers like we have now where they print on plain paper,” Fuhrmann said.
“Now it goes straight to the plate process, you don’t actually print it and you don’t have to send someone out with a van and a bunch of layouts or pages or plates. Everything happens electronically.
Jeff Hoffman, director of advertising sales at Multi-Media Channels, the current owner of the Tribune Gazette and Wisconsin publications and newspapers, said he began working with Bernice on March 6, 1989.
Hoffman was hired by the Gleasons to help sell advertising to the TG and eventually became editor and publisher of the newspaper under GateHouse Media ownership.
After the Gleasons retired in 1994, Hoffman and Fuhrmann remained at the paper and went through four ownership changes over the next 28 years working together.
Hoffman remembers that Fuhrmann was always ready to learn.
“Bernice was particularly good at learning new skills. She saw it all at TG,” Hoffman said.
“She has seen as many changes in this industry as anyone. From lead type to all-digital, she tracked quantum leaps in the way things are done in a newspaper.
Fuhrmann has held various positions over the past 10 years within the Multi-Media Channel family of newspapers. Among other things, she became familiar with the laws and intricacies of legal opinions and oversaw that department for several MMC newspapers, including the Waupaca County Post, the Clintonville Tribune-Gazette, and the New London Press Star.
General Manager Dave Wood said he was grateful for his knowledge and hard work over the past 10 years with MMC.
“She was an accomplished professional in everything she did for the newspaper. We are grateful for her time with us and will miss her presence in our Clintonville office,” Wood said.
The next volume
Fuhrmann’s last official day in office was May 13.
She said she plans to stay near Clintonville during her retirement.
Fuhrman has a long list of things to do around the house and garden.
She plans to keep abreast of local affairs and says she will always have a deep interest in community issues, which has come naturally with the job for 50 years.
“I will miss people the most,” she said. “People I worked with and people from the community who came all the time,” she said. “That was the best part of the job.”