Waldemar Jacob Pflepsen

Obituaries in Detroit, MI | The Detroit News
Obituaries in Detroit, MI | The Detroit News

Waldemar Jacob Pflepsen

Okemos - July 18, 1920 - November 21, 2021

Wally, or Flip as he was known by many, passed away in Okemos, Michigan, of natural causes at 101 years of age. Born into a family of eleven children in the small town of Cold Spring, Minnesota, he embarked upon a somewhat rambunctious childhood that gave him countless stories enthusiastically repeated to successive waves of his progeny — seven children, 17 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren. He might, though, be accused of embellishment at times for the benefit of rapt youngsters: there is no record of him having ever been in Transylvania. A newspaperman his entire working life (he claimed to have printer's ink in his veins), he retired in 1982 from the Editorial Staff of The Detroit News after 28 years, most prominently as the Photo Editor responsible for the daily "back page," which featured a pictorial collection of newsworthy world, national, and local events, as well as the selection and captioning of photos throughout the paper. He also was instrumental in the production of numerous special feature sections for such events as the Kennedy assassination and the 1967 Detroit Riots, in the latter instance having been barricaded in The News building for a number of days while helping produce the daily paper. On occasion he also would write articles on whatever captured his attention: one such instance being the serial front-page coverage in the late 1950s of the effect his pulling the plug on the family television for the entire 40-day Lenten period had on his growing family. They survived, and all eventually graduated from college.

Over his long career he demonstrated he was capable of doing virtually any job in the newsroom. As an adolescent he had worked for the Cold Spring Record, rising from a delivery boy to, as a young teenager, a gossip columnist from which he laughingly recalled a few columns that inadvertently landed him in hot water with certain town-folk. He also learned how to handset metal type, one letter at a time, and use a typewriter; for the rest of his life he typed out personal letters, bank checks, and all sorts of forms on a manual Smith-Corona.

Flip, after graduating from high school during the Great Depression in the top ten of his high school class, which he mentioned with a smile by pointing out that his senior class had only 11 students, went on to obtain a journalism degree from the University of Minnesota in 1942, only months after the attack of Pearl Harbor. He enlisted in the U.S. Marines, rising to the rank of First Lieutenant, and after serving on the equatorial atoll of Palmyra Island ended up on duty in the Hawaiian Islands where he met a dark-haired, blue-eyed U.S. Navy Ensign nurse, Sue (Assunta) Gatto — a first-generation U.S. citizen born to Italian immigrant parents — with whom he remained madly, and deeply, in love for the remainder of his life and their nearly 77 years of marriage. Upon his retirement from The News, they moved to their beloved Melbourne Beach, Florida, near many of Sue's large family, where they continued to live an active and joyful life hosting a steady stream of friends and relatives from both their extended families. No crowd seemed too large for their modest bungalow located steps from the blue Atlantic, and smaller children might even sleep under the dining room table to avoid being trod upon. Having grown up playing a variety of sports, and especially baseball and golf, Flip enjoyed golf in his retirement. In his 70s he made two holes-in-one on the same hole on the same day a year apart. For that day the following year the commemorative plaque simply noted - "Rained Out."

In 2018, advancing years led Flip and Sue to leave Florida when they returned to Michigan to reside with their eldest daughter in the Lansing area. Just two weeks prior to his passing, Sue, who survives him, celebrated her 100th birthday. Also, surviving him are daughters Kaye Lani Walters of Okemos, Donna Hornbuckle (Mert) of Naples FL and San Diego CA, Carrie Pflepsen (Bourbonnais) of Bristow VA, and Kristen Maichen (Michael) of Natick MA and son Waldemar Jr. (Paula) of Washington DC. He was predeceased by daughter Paula Brigham (Robert Brigham M.D.), son Kevin, and another daughter, Faith Anne, who died shortly after her premature birth. Survivors also include over three dozen wonderful, and devoted, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whom he adored. A memorial service will be held at a later date when he will be interred alongside his deceased children and sons-in-law John Walters and Christopher Bourbonnais. Palmer Bush & Jensen - www.palmerbush.com - handled arrangements.

Posted online on January 19, 2022

Published in The Detroit News, Detroit Free Press

Obituaries in Detroit, MI | The Detroit News
Obituaries in Detroit, MI | The Detroit News

Waldemar Jacob Pflepsen

Waldemar Jacob Pflepsen

Okemos - July 18, 1920 - November 21, 2021

Wally, or Flip as he was known by many, passed away in Okemos, Michigan, of natural causes at 101 years of age. Born into a family of eleven children in the small town of Cold Spring, Minnesota, he embarked upon a somewhat rambunctious childhood that gave him countless stories enthusiastically repeated to successive waves of his progeny — seven children, 17 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren. He might, though, be accused of embellishment at times for the benefit of rapt youngsters: there is no record of him having ever been in Transylvania. A newspaperman his entire working life (he claimed to have printer's ink in his veins), he retired in 1982 from the Editorial Staff of The Detroit News after 28 years, most prominently as the Photo Editor responsible for the daily "back page," which featured a pictorial collection of newsworthy world, national, and local events, as well as the selection and captioning of photos throughout the paper. He also was instrumental in the production of numerous special feature sections for such events as the Kennedy assassination and the 1967 Detroit Riots, in the latter instance having been barricaded in The News building for a number of days while helping produce the daily paper. On occasion he also would write articles on whatever captured his attention: one such instance being the serial front-page coverage in the late 1950s of the effect his pulling the plug on the family television for the entire 40-day Lenten period had on his growing family. They survived, and all eventually graduated from college.

Over his long career he demonstrated he was capable of doing virtually any job in the newsroom. As an adolescent he had worked for the Cold Spring Record, rising from a delivery boy to, as a young teenager, a gossip columnist from which he laughingly recalled a few columns that inadvertently landed him in hot water with certain town-folk. He also learned how to handset metal type, one letter at a time, and use a typewriter; for the rest of his life he typed out personal letters, bank checks, and all sorts of forms on a manual Smith-Corona.

Flip, after graduating from high school during the Great Depression in the top ten of his high school class, which he mentioned with a smile by pointing out that his senior class had only 11 students, went on to obtain a journalism degree from the University of Minnesota in 1942, only months after the attack of Pearl Harbor. He enlisted in the U.S. Marines, rising to the rank of First Lieutenant, and after serving on the equatorial atoll of Palmyra Island ended up on duty in the Hawaiian Islands where he met a dark-haired, blue-eyed U.S. Navy Ensign nurse, Sue (Assunta) Gatto — a first-generation U.S. citizen born to Italian immigrant parents — with whom he remained madly, and deeply, in love for the remainder of his life and their nearly 77 years of marriage. Upon his retirement from The News, they moved to their beloved Melbourne Beach, Florida, near many of Sue's large family, where they continued to live an active and joyful life hosting a steady stream of friends and relatives from both their extended families. No crowd seemed too large for their modest bungalow located steps from the blue Atlantic, and smaller children might even sleep under the dining room table to avoid being trod upon. Having grown up playing a variety of sports, and especially baseball and golf, Flip enjoyed golf in his retirement. In his 70s he made two holes-in-one on the same hole on the same day a year apart. For that day the following year the commemorative plaque simply noted - "Rained Out."

In 2018, advancing years led Flip and Sue to leave Florida when they returned to Michigan to reside with their eldest daughter in the Lansing area. Just two weeks prior to his passing, Sue, who survives him, celebrated her 100th birthday. Also, surviving him are daughters Kaye Lani Walters of Okemos, Donna Hornbuckle (Mert) of Naples FL and San Diego CA, Carrie Pflepsen (Bourbonnais) of Bristow VA, and Kristen Maichen (Michael) of Natick MA and son Waldemar Jr. (Paula) of Washington DC. He was predeceased by daughter Paula Brigham (Robert Brigham M.D.), son Kevin, and another daughter, Faith Anne, who died shortly after her premature birth. Survivors also include over three dozen wonderful, and devoted, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whom he adored. A memorial service will be held at a later date when he will be interred alongside his deceased children and sons-in-law John Walters and Christopher Bourbonnais. Palmer Bush & Jensen - www.palmerbush.com - handled arrangements.

Posted online on January 19, 2022

Published in The Detroit News, Detroit Free Press