Pat Schneider, a longtime reporter for The Cap Times in Madison, died Sunday, Oct. 29, at Agrace Hospice Care in Fitchburg, following a long battle with cancer. She was 65.
Schneider grew up with two older brothers in Chicago, where she attended Immaculata High School, an all-girls Catholic school. After graduating, she attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before earning her bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
She graduated in 1978 and spent the first 10 years of her journalism career at the Pioneer Press, a group of community newspapers covering suburban Chicago. In April 1989, Schneider was hired as assistant news editor for The Cap Times.
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Over the next 30 years, Schneider made her mark as a dogged reporter whose trailblazing work spotlighted “the plight of Madison’s marginalized and dispossessed,” reported Steven Elbow of The Cap Times. She often butted heads with policymakers and challenged those in positions of authority as she worked to provide a voice for the city’s homeless and its poorest inhabitants.
Her work, which included nearly 5,000 bylines at The Cap Times, earned Schneider numerous awards from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association and Milwaukee Press Club. Those awards included recognition for stories on affirmative action, the state of Madison’s lakes, a neighborhood’s battle over contaminated soil and more.
Schneider’s passion for fairness wasn’t limited to her beat, either. It spilled over into the newsroom, where she could often be a vocal critic of Cap Times management. In the newspaper’s obituary for Schneider, editor emeritus Dave Zweifel called her a “pioneer” who opened his eyes to institutional stereotypes that historically limited women from being equals to their male counterparts in the newsroom.
A celebration of Schneider’s life will be held at 11 a.m. on Nov. 16, at James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Church, 2146 E. Johnson St., Madison.