Denfeld News

April 20, 2006
Superior Daily Telegram

Longtime Superior fixture Lois Wessman dies
By Ron Brochu

Superior philanthropist Lois Wessman, who served four Daily Telegram publishers in a career exceeding 60 years, died Monday after a short illness.

The widow of Siinto Wessman, the former regent and longtime University of Wisconsin-Superior booster who died in March 2005, Lois, 87, also was a lifelong UWS supporter and was considered a legend at the Daily Telegram. Friends and former co-workers said she worked at the newspaper for 62 years and loved every minute of it.

During her tenure, she assisted four publishers -- Morgan Murphy; Morgan's wife, Elizabeth Murphy; his son, John Murphy; and Todd Keute. In addition to serving as personal secretary for the publishers, she also was secretary for the Evening Telegram Co., the parent firm that also held other media interests.

A Duluth native, she began her Telegram career in 1939.

"She was a good, loyal employee, and she loved the Telegram," John Murphy said Monday. "She was just a fountain of knowledge about the Telegram and everything happening in Superior."

Wessman never wanted to retire, but finally accepted an offer to slow down by taking Mondays and Fridays off, Keute said.

"I just so appreciated the historic knowledge she had, and her commitment to the Murphy family. She was just a sweetheart," Keute said.

Wessman remained active in the community. Most recently, she represented her family's estate when it donated $100,000 to Campaign Superior: Higher Expectations, the UWS fundraising effort that began in 2004 to raise $17.5 million for several projects.

"Siinto was always proud to be associated with the university, and I'm very happy that this gift today is going to help Campaign Superior make more progress," Lois Wessman said at an April 2005 news conference.

"She was genuinely a wonderful lady. The support (for UWS) by she and Siinto was a lifetime thing. She will be deeply missed," said Jill Schoer, UWS assistant chancellor for university advancement.

She maintained close ties with friends, gathering monthly for lunch with other retired Telegram employees. She was scheduled to join them Thursday to celebrate her own birthday but didn't show up, having had an undisclosed medical trauma at her home.

"She was a gracious, generous lady and had been my best friend for years," said Lorraine Gambeski, who met Lois Wessman in 1945 and spoke with her just hours before her unexpected passing.

Funeral arrangements for Friday are pending with Downs Funeral Home, 1617 N. 19th St. in Superior.

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