Editorial Comment Publisher/Editor

 

 

The Cheese Makers Who Saved The Cheese Reporter

Dick Groves
Publisher/Editor
Cheese Reporter

September 13, 2019


This week’s issue includes the sad news of the passing of August Albert “Butch” Suemnicht of Reedsburg, WI, a longtime leader in the Wisconsin cheese industry.

In addition to serving as president of both the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association and the old Wisconsin Cheese Foundation, Suemnicht is believed to have been the last of a group of cheese makers that at one time owned the Cheese Reporter.

What follows is a brief glance back at that period in this publication’s history.

Some 57 years ago, at the beginning of 1962, the Cheese Reporter was owned by Fred Beisser, who had served as editor of the publication since 1943 and purchased the paper in 1957. Beisser served as the paper’s publisher and editor until he passed away on Mar. 12, 1962.

After Beisser passed away, the duties of editing and publishing the Cheese Reporter fell entirely on his widow, Edith. After a couple of months, she offered to sell the paper.

Then, “after careful consideration,” the board of directors of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association determined that the continued publication of “The Reporter” was necessary for the good of the cheese industry, and decided to buy it, according to the “Association Notes” column that appeared in the May 25, 1962 issue of the paper and was written by Joseph J. Balcer, the WCMA’s executive director and legal counsel at that time.

But rather than risk the WCMA’s “limited funds” in this venture, without first submitting the question to the entire membership, the WCMA board, together with other interested cheese makers, “decided to ‘pass the hat’ so to speak, and pledged their own funds to raise the necessary purchase price,” Balcer wrote in that column.

One week later, a “Statement of Policy” on the front page of the paper announced that the publishing, editing and managing responsibilities had passed to the new owners: Cheese Reporter Publishing Company, Inc.

“The new owners are cheesemakers,” the Statement of Policy continued.
“The Cheese Reporter is established as a profit making corporation, but its first objective will be to continue to serve, and to expand its services if need be, so that all the individuals and businesses which are the cheese industry can grow and prosper, and provide the people of the whole world the most nutritious and taste-satisfying food we call cheese.”

So, what does this history have to do with the late Butch Suemnicht? Well, Suemnicht is believed to have been the last living former cheese maker-owner of this newspaper.

Records of that era are a bit hard to come by; more precisely, it’s been impossible to dig up exactly who the cheese makers were who purchased the Cheese Reporter back in 1962 and formed the Cheese Reporter Publishing Co. Inc.

For example, a front-page story in the May 25, 1962 issue of the paper started out as follows: “Announcement was made this week by Mrs. Fred Beisser that ‘The Cheese Reporter’ has been purchased by a group of Wisconsin cheesemakers. The new management will be known as ‘The Cheese Reporter Publishing Co.’, a corporation formed especially to purchase the paper.”

The story adds that the paper’s editorial and business offices will be located in Madison, according to WCMA executive secretary Balcer. Prior to Fred Beisser’s death, the paper had been published out of Sheboygan Falls, WI (for more details, please check out last week’s column). But there’s no mention of the cheese makers who were the paper’s new owners.

A couple of months later, in the July 20, 1962 issue of the Cheese Reporter, to be exact, the appointment of Harry Palmiter as managing editor of the paper was announced by the board of directors of the Cheese Reporter Publishing Co. Inc. Again, there’s no mention of who those board members were.

Palmiter purchased the Cheese Reporter Publishing Co. Inc., a couple of years later. The story announcing the sale mentions that the paper had been purchased in 1962 by a group of Wisconsin cheese makers following the death of Fred Beisser, but once again makes no mention of who those cheese makers were.

About the only source of information we’ve been able to come across as far as who the cheese makers are that formerly owned the Cheese Reporter Publishing Co. Inc. is the “Annual Report of Domestic Corporation” filed with Robert C. Zimmerman, secretary of state of Wisconsin, in early 1964.

That document lists Horace P. (H.P.) Mulloy as president of the company, with Lloyd Dickrell as vice president and Elmer Beery as secretary and treasurer. In addition to Mulloy, Dickrell and Beery, the report lists two directors: A. J. Thiel, of Menasha, WI; and August Suemnicht of Reedsburg, WI.

With that (albeit somewhat limited) information, we are reasonably confident in concluding that August A. “Butch” Suemnicht was the last living cheese maker who, for a couple of years in the 1960s, was the owner of this newspaper (or, more precisely, the owner of Cheese Reporter Publishing Co. Inc.).

Perhaps even more important, he was among those cheese makers who, back in the weeks following the death of Fred Beisser, believed that continuing the Cheese Reporter was necessary for the good of the cheese industry. And for that, we are forever grateful, and forever indebted, to Butch Suemnicht and the other cheese makers who, 57 years ago, saved the Cheese Reporter.

 

Dick Groves

Dick Groves has been publisher/editor of Cheese Reporter since 1989. He has over 35 years experience covering the dairy industry. His weekly editorial is read and referenced throughout the world.
For more information, call 608-316-3791 dgroves@cheesereporter.com
https://twitter.com/cheesereporter.


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Cheese Reporter welcomes letters to the editor. Comments should be sent to: Dick Groves by Fax at (608) 246-8431; or e-mail your comments to
dgroves @cheesereporter.com.