This story could begin with: Richard Brockman, the publisher of The Platteville Journal for 31 years, died Monday.
This story could also begin with: Richard Brockman, a benefactor of numerous Platteville causes for which he sought no personal credit, died Monday.
Both phrases describe Brockman, 65, a lifelong Platteville resident, according to those who worked with him on such events as Dairy Days and such causes as Thursday’s Child.
“He went to great lengths to stay in the background,” said Kathy Kopp, executive director of the Platteville Area Chamber of Commerce. “That was the way he was. Dick was a huge part of this community for a very long time.”
The Platteville Journal named Brockman Citizen of the Year last December, but, his friend Gary Tuescher said, “I would nominate him for citizen of the half-century.”
Brockman’s funeral will be at First English Lutheran Church in Platteville Friday at 11 a.m. Visitation will be at First English Lutheran Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. and Friday at 10 a.m. Melby Funeral Home & Crematory in Platteville is in charge of arrangements.
By his own description, Brockman worked at The Journal for 51 of his first 56 years. Harold and Leone Brockman purchased The Journal in 1933. Dick Brockman sold The Journal to Morris Newspapers Corporation of Wisconsin in 2003.
“My parents owned the paper, so I stuffed papers when I was 5,” he said in December. “Basically I did simple things like that. And then as I got older, when I got into about seventh grade I did writing and some photography.”
Dick Brockman purchased The Journal from his parents in 1971, shortly after his graduation from UW–Platteville.
Tuescher noted “his dedication — he went to school board meetings and city council meetings. He and his folks were the hardest workers I’d ever known. He and his folks were there seven days a week.”
“He worked all the time,” said Kopp. “That was my impression until he got married.”
Brockman’s best known part of The Journal was his front-page column, The Gospel According to Eddie Tor.
“He would take a stand, and he had a real sense of community,” said Kopp. “He felt there were certain things that needed to be done, and a certain line you walked, and that was it. He wasn’t afraid to state his opinion. He always had an opinion.”
Before its move to East Business 151, The Journal was located across the street from Tuescher Photography on Main Street.
“We’d be arguing about who was better, the north side or the south side of Main Street,” said Tuescher. “What I loved the most about him was his keen wit, and I don’t think people realized it. He had a million stories.”
After he sold The Journal in 2003, Brockman’s retirement from newspapers lasted one year, until he purchased the Linn News–Letter in Central City, Iowa. Brockman also owned Mastercraft Press.
If Brockman could get credit for only one contribution to Platteville outside of The Journal, it would probably be for Dairy Days.
“He saved Dairy Days,” said Tuescher. “It was kind of losing its importance, and he singlehandedly revived it and really brought it back on.”
“He did not want to be acknowledged for that,” said Kopp. “It was a huge financial cost, and he did it year after year.”
John Dutcher, one of the creators of the Party in the Park (now part of the Hometown Festival), called Mildred Faith, owner of Mound View Shows, to set up in City Park.
“Dick paid for that,” said Dutcher. “He didn’t want anybody to know he did that That was typical Dick, and it didn’t happen just once; it happened lots of times.”
Dutcher got Brockman involved in Make a Wish, inviting children to the Disney Mickey’s Hometown Parade in 1998, and taking them to Brockman’s Grizzly Flats roller rink afterward for free.
“He did stuff like that, and you would never be able to publish that in the paper because he would never allow it,” said Dutcher.
“To my mind, he was Mr. Platteville,” said Tuescher. “Nobody ever represented Platteville better.”
Survivors include his wife, Kathy, one sister, Suzanne Neuser of Platteville, nieces Ellen and Susan, and nephew Craig. (See Deaths, page 5A.)