News copy editor Don Bauerle was ‘old school perfection’
Long after he retired from a successful career in print journalism, Don Bauerle loved keeping up with the news.
“His day wasn’t complete unless he read that newspaper,” said his sister, Kathleen Anderson. “He was always interested in what was going on.”
Mr. Bauerle, a former Detroit News copy editor, died Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, after declining health. He was 79.
During more than 30 years at The News, the city native impressed colleagues with his extensive knowledge and attention to detail.
“He was an outstanding copy editor and headline writer. He worked at the Wall Street Journal early in his career and brought that experience to the desk,” said former Detroit News copy desk chief Don Frost, who spent nine years as his supervisor. “He was full of energy and always had a smile on his face. I don’t ever remember him being down or unpleasant about anything. We used to get a chuckle out of his campaign to find the lowest gas prices in southeast Michigan. I think he was more informed than AAA.”
That capability served Mr. Bauerle well whether handling tight deadlines or working to improve the numerous articles that crossed his path.
“Don was old school perfection when it came to the written word,” recalls Maryann Struman, a Detroit Free Press metro editor who knew him since she was an intern at The News. “And he didn’t mince words when he had an issue with a story. He wasn’t afraid to call you on the carpet to save readers from flowery gibberish when a story cried out for plain speak. When he’d say, ‘And so the point is ...’ you knew the thing was a mess, regardless of who the author was. Readers owe him a debt of thanks.”
Mr. Bauerle honed his skills over many years ascending through the journalism ranks.
He notched his first big break as a reporter with Dow Jones Newswires, working in cities such as St. Louis and Chicago, before landing at the Wall Street Journal in New York, relatives said. “He just kept following the bigger and better job,” said his daughter, Jill Bauerle.
In 1973, Mr. Bauerle returned to The Detroit News, where he had worked as a copy boy while studying journalism at Wayne State University.
He held multiple roles and at one point even penned a pet column, writing about everything from “sitters” to snacks, heartworm and a gas station golden retriever “clerk,” his daughter said. “He got a kick out of just kooky things and writing about people. … He was a very sweet and gentle man and interested in pretty much anything and very chatty. He just loved talking to people.”
Other interests captured his attention, as well.
Born April 28, 1937, in Detroit, he was an accomplished trumpeter and planned to attend college on a scholarship until a lung injury, his sister recalls.
Years later, he and his wife, Betty, were dedicated to canines: breeding Springer Spaniels and attending dog shows. They also housed foster children, including those with special needs, their daughter said. “He was tireless in his support for the kids.”
Mr. Bauerle also loved photography, University of Michigan football, big band music, traveling across Canada and tending to a community garden he and his wife started with friends on their 10-acre property.
Even while coping with health challenges, the retiree read regularly and stayed current on world affairs, Anderson said. “He was with it right to the end.”
Besides his sister and daughter, other survivors include children Nancy Nunes, David, Jason, Kenita and Jeremy; 10 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His wife died in 2013.
A private memorial service is planned.