Eugene Ringhand was passionate about the Leader-Telegram, former colleagues and family say.
Ringhand worked at the newspaper for 42 years, retiring in 1999 after 12 years as editor.
“The Leader was his life,” said his son, Michael Ringhand. “He left a big part of his life behind when he left there.”
Eugene Ringhand died Monday. He was 82.
Ringhand, a 1955 Augusta High School graduate, was a sports and special assignment reporter from 1957 to 1959. He served in the U.S. Army but returned to the paper after his discharge. He moved up from Menomonie bureau reporter to city editor to managing editor, and then became editor.
“It was important to him that things be fair — that there isn’t a bias (in stories) at all,” Michael Ringhand said. “It was what he was striving for all the time. He liked giving people the whole story.”
Ringhand recalled his father would receive phone calls at home from disgruntled readers, including people who were upset that information had been printed.
“He just stayed calm, didn’t get emotional, and told them it was public record,” he said.
Karen Preston, Eugene’s daughter, agreed that the paper meant everything to him.
“He loved the newspaper,” Preston said. “He’d work six days a week, and on Sunday he’d sit and read it at the kitchen table with a red pen, making corrections.”
Preston described her father as a fair man who wanted each person to have his or her say.
“He loved debate,” she said. “He wanted to give all the information so people could make informed decisions.”
Preston said not everyone appreciated the stories shared in the newspaper.
“He had graffiti on his garage door,” she said. “He just internalized it in a calm, quiet manner and didn’t let it bother him too much.”
The newspaper made a major transition during Ringhand’s tenure, moving away from a printing press with movable type into the computer age.
“He was there when they first started getting computerized in the 1970s,” Michael Ringhand said. “There were a few weeks there he worked a lot of nights.”
Preston said her father was excited about the transition.
“He loved learning the new technology,” she said. “He was thirsty for knowledge.”
Ringhand hired Don Huebscher as managing editor in 1987.
“He was a quiet guy, but very thoughtful,” said Huebscher, who eventually succeeded Ringhand as editor. “He really believed in letting people do their work — he didn’t hover over them. He trusted people. He let me manage the newsroom.”
Former outdoors reporter Joe Knight said Ringhand was the first person he met when he interviewed for a job at the newspaper. Knight agreed that Ringhand was a quiet leader.
“I never saw him get agitated about anything,” Knight said. “He took things in stride. He was soft-spoken for a newspaper editor — he didn’t fit the stereotype of a shouting newspaper guy.”
Knight said Ringhand worked at the newspaper during a great time for the industry.
“Newspapers as a whole were thriving,” Knight said. “He had a good career.”
Ringhand also is survived by another daughter, Ann Ringhand, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Joan, his wife of 52 years, died in 2013.
Services for Ringhand will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at Anderson Funeral Home, 312 S. Stone St., Augusta. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home.