Underwood was a congenial person [UPDATED]Published 4:37am Monday, August 19, 2013 Updated 6:39am Monday, August 19, 2013
Those of us who worked for the late Daily Journal publisher Chuck Underwood knew that he’d always take the time if someone wanted to stop at his office and have a brief, personal visit.
Former Daily Journal advertising employee John Burns said it well by stating that Underwood had superb interpersonal skills.
“You felt like a member of his family and knew you could come in and talk with him,” said Burns to current staff writer Rian Bosse who wrote a tribute story to Underwood. “It was the way that Chuck and the Underwood family treated employees and those they worked with.”
I felt the same way when I was part of the Daily Journal newsroom staff as a summer intern in the late 1960s and regular staff member in the 1970s, prior to Chuck’s retirement.
My fellow staff writers were Bob Drechsel and Bill Bank. Harley Oyloe was lead photographer and Glenn Olson headed the advertising department.
“Chuck was indeed a great guy and an excellent publisher,” said Drechsel, now a journalism professor at the University of Wisconsin.
Underwood was always willing to listen to a person’s opinion. He was fully engaged in conversations and always had a pleasant demeanor. When making decisions about newspaper policy, he used common sense.
His demeanor was the same whether it be with the average man on the street or with national leaders.
I recall Chuck pleasantly interviewing Hubert H. Humphrey when the former vice president and Minnesota’s U.S. Senator came to town in 1976 as grand marshal for the bicentennial parade.
Chuck and newsroom editor Jim Gray traveled to Florida in December 1972 to attend the final lunar launch. Gray’s summer neighbor at West Battle Lake, Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, was among the final two Americans to walk on the moon.
Another former Daily Journal employee singing the praises of Underwood is Tom Yuzer, a retiree living in California. Tom, who I worked for, served as sports editor and later city editor during the 1960s.
“It certainly was clear that The Daily Journal and our staff and editorial focus was a reflection of Chuck’s leadership at the newspaper,” said Yuzer.
He remembers Underwood as community-minded and a person who expressed his philosophy through the Daily Journal’s positive coverage of activities and organizations in Fergus Falls.
“And just as significantly,” said Yuzer, “I became aware of his commitment to Fergus Falls through his own personal involvement in community activities.”
His hiring of Bob King as editor, who came to the Daily Journal after heading the Fergus Falls Chamber of Commerce, was seen by Yuzer and others as another reflection of Underwood wanting his team at the Daily Journal to be focused on promoting the community of Fergus Falls.
“It was a pleasure and an honor to work for a family-owned newspaper like the Fergus Falls Daily Journal,” said Yuzer. “My wife Liz and I have fond memories of our five years as a part of Fergus Falls.”
Yuzer went on to work in public relations for the University of Minnesota, his alma mater.
Chuck was a very good Otter athlete who served his country well during World War II.
Fergus Falls was fortunate that he returned to his hometown to work his way up to publisher at the Daily Journal. Fergus Falls is a better place because of Chuck Underwood.
• • •
With the days getting shorter, and summer coming to a close, it’s a treat spending time in the early evening at area lakes.
Such was the case with our family during a visit to Battle Lake on Thursday evening, Aug. 15. A drive through nearby Glendalough State Park topped off a perfect evening.
We’re fortunate to live in Otter Tail County.
Check out the Otter Tail Country Tourism Association website. Things we take for granted here are real treasures.