Inducted into the Wisconsin Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2003
Warren D. Leary Jr., whose father bought The Chronotype in 1923, served as publisher of the Rice Lake newspaper from 1959 until retiring in 1986.
At the age of 80, Leary continued to write his weekly column, “Out Amongst ‘Em” on deadline and from datelines around the world. But his favorite place to write about was Rice Lake, his hometown.
Born to a couple of journalists, you could say ink was in his blood. Leary’s father, Warren Sr., and business partner August Ender purchased The Chronotype in 1923 where Warren Jr. first worked as a “printer’s devil” for 25 cents per hour as a teenager in 1938. Leary earned his bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame, served in the army during World War II, was a prisoner in Germany, and then attended Columbia University, graduate school of journalism, where he met his first wife, Patricia Berigan, a classmate. Upon graduation in 1947, he embarked on a career with the Milwaukee Journal. Within a few years, he was called home to edit The Chronotype and never left. When his Dad died in May 1959, he took the reins as publisher and columnist. He also wrote editorials, among them several in opposition of Joe McCarthy.
Until his retirement in 1986, Leary oversaw construction of a new building in the late 1950s, eased the transition from letterpress to offset printing in 1966, printed neighboring weeklies and supervised the production of a massive 100th anniversary edition of The Chronotype in 1974. In addition to covering city council and school board meetings and serving on a host of community committees, he also served as president of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, announced nightly radio news over WJMC and hosted a TV public affairs show. An avid sports fan, he was admitted to the Rice Lake Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions as a chronicler of local sports history. His journalistic – and personal – integrity steered him to “tell it like it is” and “get it right” as editor and publisher until his retirement. He was never afraid to tackle controversial local issues and has written many award-winning editorials.