Falls News editor fondly remembers his ‘right-hand man’

by Jeff Pederson Sheboygan Falls News Editor

You may not have known his face or recognized his name, but if you have read an issue of The Sheboygan Falls News over the past 17 years, you are familiar with the work of Jack Lutz.

Since 1997, Jack has lent his layout design talents to The Sheboygan Falls News on a weekly basis, assisting me with the final layout of several pages of the newspaper each Tuesday.

On Saturday, Nov. 8, Jack passed from this earth just over a year after being diagnosed with colon cancer.

To say Jack was a remarkable person would be a vast understatement.

He was a multi-talented, whirling dervish, whose unwavering energy level was truly aweinspiring.

Jack spent his professional life as a traditional and non-traditional Catholic priest in the Milwaukee, Racine, Wauwatosa and Port Washington area.

He was also a highly skilled designer and woodworker, who completed numerous home and business construction, maintenance and improvement projects throughout the country.

In addition, he was an avid downhill skier and a certified skiing instructor, as well as a top-notch oil painter and dedicated world traveler.

As if that wasn’t enough, he found time to join us each week at the offices of The Sheboygan Falls News and Plymouth Review to satiate his interest in newspaper journalism.

I first met Jack on my first full day as editor of The Sheboygan Falls News on June 16, 2006.

While he typically only worked at the paper on Tuesdays, he made a special trip to the office on that day to welcome me, which in itself was pretty impressive.

Immediately after he walked through my office door I was overwhelmed by his world-class energy level, not to mention his rapid-fire, yet friendly way of speaking and innate ability to make you feel instantly comfortable around him.

As I stumbled and fumbled around mightily in my first months at The Falls News, I leaned on Jack a lot.

He eased my nerves when I questioned what I should be doing and how I should be doing it and he provided gentle guidance on how to handle various situations that I had not encountered in my previous journalistic experiences as a sports writer.

He was also a wizard at the cut-and-paste layout method that we were using at the time. I was more than happy to turn many key pages over to him and I could always trust his decision making and knack for presenting news in a visually pleasing manner.

For a man who spent 21 years as an active member of the clergy, Jack had a tendency to make comments that were pretty unclergylike, which went a long way to break up the tension that can come with working on a newspaper deadline.

Over the years, his duties changed as the cut-and-paste layout gave way to fully computerized layout methods.

Jack took it all in stride with a smile, a kind, encouraging word and that ever-present, contagious energy. Over time, as I became more comfortable in my position, it became evident that I was relying on him a bit less.

Even so, he remained loyal as ever and was always there to give me a lift when I needed it most.

In January, when well-documented circumstances put The Falls News in the unlikely spotlight, Jack brought a smile to my face during the most challenging week of my career.

Even though I don’t drink alcohol, Jack brought in some kind of hideous homemade concoction of liquor that literally made me laugh out loud because it was such a fitting gesture.

As his health was failing, he remained loyal to The Sheboygan Falls News, designing his pages up until the final weeks of his life.

Jack always encouraged people to keep their sense of mischief, because he said life is more interesting that way. I always thought he was joking, but the more I think about it, I think he was on to something.

So, cheers to mischief and cheers to Jack Lutz - my righthand man.

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