Leo Pesch Jr.
Inducted into the Wisconsin Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2006
There’s a reason Leo Pesch, Jr. was nicknamed “Lucky Leo.” He was a sports pages legend of the Peshtigo Times, whose career spanned half a century. Pesch gained fame for his ability to tack on fitting nicknames to local sports figures and turn a quick wit into a perfect headline, and local coaches claimed his “Lucky Leo picks” for the week were close to 90 percent right on. It was said that people would wait for the Times to come out each week to see what Lucky Leo had to say.
“My heroes are the underdogs,” he was quoted saying in a Times story about his retirement. “The winners — the stars — get all the headlines, but the real heroes in high school sports are the ones that come in last, but never give up. And the fans. The people who come out to cheer even when their team is losing. Those are my heroes!”
Pesch grew up in the Times offices, where his father owned the newspaper. He started cleaning linotype machines, went on to help with job printing and, in high school, started writing sports when he wasn’t suited up to play. He never studied photography formally, but what he picked up from his father and what he taught himself landed him several awards for photography and sports reporting.
Pesch retired in 2003, and is probably best remembered for the relationships he developed in the community and impact he had on the young athletes he covered. The stories he wrote and the pictures he took made kids feel good about themselves. He died in 2004.