Fred Berner, editor and former owner of the Antigo Daily Journal, dies at 71

Fred Berner, Antigo Daily Journal
Antigo Daily Journal editor Fred Berner at the 2013 Antigo High School commencement ceremony, where he was honored as Alumnus of the Year.

Frederick “Fred” A. Berner, whose family owned the Antigo Daily Journal for more than 110 years before selling the newspaper in June, died Monday, Nov. 25, at his desk. He was 71.

Berner was born on May 15, 1948, to Artemas and Marie (Flynn) Berner. At the time, his father was publisher of the Daily Journal, a position he held until his death in 1963, when Marie took the helm of the newspaper.

Fred graduated in 1966 from Antigo High School and, in 1970, he earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from UW-Eau Claire. Following graduation, he became editor of the Hartford Times-Press before returning home in 1972 to work at the Daily Journal, where he served as editor for more than 40 years.

Upon his mother’s death in August 2011, Fred became publisher of the Daily Journal. He was set to retire from the newspaper at the end of this week.

“I love it and I can’t think of doing anything else,” Fred told the Wausau Daily Herald in 1985 about working at the family-owned newspaper.

He was the last of a long line of Berners to lead the Daily Journal from its beginnings in 1905, and, like those before him, was a leader in the community.

Fred Berner of Antigo with President Gerald Ford
Fred Berner (right) shakes hands with President Gerald Ford during a visit to the White House. Berner had been attending a newspaper convention in Williamsburg, Va., and when Ford wasn’t able to pay attendees a visit, he invited them to the White House, Berner wrote in a 2006 Bits & Pieces column.

In addition to serving on the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Board of Directors, Fred was a leader in Antigo’s United Way campaign and was a longtime member of the M&I Bank Board of Directors.

In 2013, he was honored with Antigo High School’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. In July, the Langlade County Board of Supervisors honored him for his many years of dedicated service to the community as editor and publisher of the Daily Journal.

Survivors include faithful friend and companion, Kay Schroeder; his sister, Mary Jo Berner, Eagle River; niece, Betsy Ross, Denmark; nephews, Russell F. (Deborah) Ross, Jacksonville Beach, Fla., John Ross (Stephanie), DePere, Flynn and Fletcher Ross, Nashville, Tenn.; and his Daily Journal family.

Visitation will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29, at Bradley Funeral Home in Antigo. A funeral mass is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, at St. John Catholic Church in Antigo.

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