April 20, 2006
Longtime Superior fixture Lois Wessman
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
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
"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
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
"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
Funeral arrangements for
Friday are pending with Downs Funeral Home, 1617 N. 19th St. in