Palmer H. Sondreal, a man whose name was synonymous with newspaper publishing in northwestern Wisconsin, owned and published the Amery Free Press for 65 years. A native of Cooperstown, N.D., he began developing his journalism skills as a high school student. After graduating at age 16 as valedictorian of his class, Sondreal worked as a linotype operator in Iowa, Montana and Minnesota before moving to Amery in 1941. Sondreal purchased the Free Press in 1943 and became the writer, pressman, ad salesman and publisher – always dedicated to making Amery a better place to live. Through his efforts, the Free Press became an integral part of Amery community life and remains so today. Sondreal gave freely of his time and energy to his community; he loved music, athletics and just about anything in which children were involved.
Sondreal organized Publisher’s Printing Service, Inc., to serve the printing needs of several small publications in the region. He served as president of the Wisconsin Press Association, forerunner to WNA, and chairman of the board of the American Newspaper Representatives which processed advertising for newspapers nationwide.
Ignoring the computer age, Sondreal wrote his weekly column, “Ambling in Amery,” on an IBM Model D typewriter. He often referred to himself as “Ye Ambler,” ending each week with “the groaner,” a joke aimed at making people smile, and perhaps groan. For many of his 65 years at the Free Press, Sondreal worked beside his sons, Jerry and Steve. Sondreal was 86 when he died May 20, 2007.