Fred Berner, 71
On Monday, Nov. 25, 2019, Fred Berner woke up at 4 a.m.-just like he did every Monday through Friday- pulled on his pants and sweatshirt, tied his shoes, opened the garage door, backed his car out, and drove to the Antigo Daily Journal office to begin what became his final minutes of life, at the desk he had occupied with such dedication and determination for more than four decades.
Kay Schroeder-who readers of Bits and Pieces recognize from the many times Fred mentioned her in his column-found Fred when she arrived at the Journal office at 6:30 Monday morning to begin her final week of work. It was to be Fred’s final week as well, as he had sold the newspaper to Adams Publishing Group in June. Kay was Fred’s faithful friend and companion for more than 40 years.
Fred was 71 years old.
Fred grew up in the offices of the Antigo Daily Journal, which was being operated by his father, Artemas, and his uncle, Henry. He called the newspaper “his sandbox,” and spent long hours in the plant, fiddling with type, and later, working as a paper carrier, in the press room and taking photographs.
Fred had the distinction of being the only publisher of the Antigo Daily Journal to have a degree in journalism. He received the bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1970.
Following graduation, his first job took him to Hartford, where he worked as editor of the Hartford Times-Press before returning home in 1972, to work with his mother, Marie Berner.
Fred was the last of a long line of Berners to lead the Antigo Daily Journal from its beginnings in 1905. All of them, including Fred, were leaders in the community and dedicated to publishing a quality newspaper.
Fred was especially proud of being one of the leaders of the United Way campaign in Antigo. He served on the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Board of directors for many years and was a longtime member of the board of directors of the M & I Bank,
While Fred loved being a journalist-with his camera always within reach-he enjoyed helping others in a “behind the scenes” way. He did not seek attention with his generosity and he lived a modest yet vibrant life, filled with Kay Schroeder, family, friends and fun.
Frederick A. Berner was born in Antigo on May 15, 1948, to Artemas and Marie (Flynn) Berner. At the time, his father was publisher of the Antigo Daily Journal, the position he held until his death in 1963, when Fred’s mother, Marie, took the helm of the paper. Fred became publisher upon his mother’s death in August, 2011.
Fred was a graduate of Antigo High School with the class of 1966. He was honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2013, offering remarks at the commencement ceremony.
Survivors, in addition to Kay Schroeder, include 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 Antigo Daily Journal family.
Visitation will be held at the Bradley Funeral Home Friday, Nov. 29 from 3 to 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 30 from 9 to 10 a.m.
A funeral mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. John Catholic Church in Antigo with Rev. Charles Hoffmann officiating.