And then I wrote...

The following are tributes submitted in honor of Dick Schilling - former editor and editor emeritus of this and other publications under the Waukon newspaper realm over the past five decades - following his unexpected passing November 27. Those wishing to submit their own tributes for publication here may do so by sending an email to or mailing their submission to The Standard, P.O. Box 286, Waukon, IA 52172.

I was saddened to learn of Dick Schilling’s death. I always looked forward to reading his weekly column and had been a faithful reader for years. His comments were insightful and often brought a smile to my face.

Even though I worked with him for only a short period of time his example and knowledge have stayed with me. He was very knowledgeable about a variety of topics.  I was most impressed with his command of the English language and all of its grammatical correctness. Often today’s magazine articles and radio or television news stories are reported with incorrect grammar or in an awkward manner. I find myself thinking, “Oh, I wonder what Dick Schilling would think of those reports.”

Although he is no longer with us, we do have the privilege of passing some of his skills and insights on to the next generation.

Alyce May
Grundy Center

With a mournful heart yet celebrating a beautiful man and joy-filled memories, I would like to pass on some thoughts and stories of Dick Schilling.

Richard Schilling was a man that we who knew him treasured his friendship and acquaintance. Looking back, one sees clearly how one man can be held in such high esteem but lived a humble and serving life. He truly had a lifetime of love for the community of Waukon and Allamakee County, it’s people and hills and valleys of northeast Iowa.

Having grown up and lived over half a century with the local newspaper in Waukon, my personal memories of Dick span back to first grade, which was circa 1960s to date. If you would indulge me, here are some thoughts and stories of, as he would initial over and over again… “RJS”, Richard John Schilling.

• Having a downtown Waukon paper route delivering to local store stores for “counter-sale editions”, I would see RJS two times each week in the newspaper office right after school. These were twice-a-week encounters because 30 years ago Waukon was one of the dozen communities in Iowa with “Twin Weeklies”, the Tuesday Republican Standard and the Thursday Democrat publications. So, my bi-weekly meets with Dick added to my education in life. I remember using Dick as a live dictionary as Scott Ryan, my buddy, and I would quiz Mr. Schilling on the meaning of a word heard that day in school. Mr. Dictionary said very abruptly, “here is my dictionary, look it up!” Lesson learned!
• Not only was RJS the news editor, he also was the sports editor; a feat few could accomplish, especially turning out two full 12- to 20-page editions each week 52 weeks in a year. Covering sports Dick was as objective as one could be with good teams and not so good ones. My high school sports scrapbook for WHS sports participation is full of RJS and a true journalistic objectivity but taking it easy on the Orange and Black.
• Throughout his three decades of being the pulse of Waukon and newspapering, many changes took place. One of the biggest was the change from “hot type” letterpress printing to the “offset” printing and the early stage contraptions that created a page that was photographed for a negative then turned into a printing plate where water/ink magic gave the high speed press its modern era marvel. Well, that early equipment to lay out a page for offset printing was not done on computers but rather a typewriter and then the copy input to devises that created galleys of type laid onto the master page to create the negative.

The new era in printing meant a slow and labor intense process for layout. Dealing with the twin weeklies with meetings, sports games and everyday news produced very long days and working well into the morning prior to the final press deadline. Dick never complained about the long hours and rarely missed due to illness and took little time off.

• In the course of Dick’s years following the various Indians sports teams some would make a state tournament or a sub-state contest. During the long distance car rides, I with camera and RJS with notepad would be on the trail to bring back the news. He always provided thought-provoking conversation and was a constant gentleman. His pride in our local Waukon area sons and daughters never wavered.
• As a staff photographer, Dick asked that I write a weekly column from view point of the camera lens that saw and captured local/area events and happenings. Editing my written word Dick would continually and patiently teach and guide one to follow good English and journalism. Never was a belittling or condescending attitude conveyed from this very busy editor.
• “And Then I Wrote” was a man’s thoughts of community and the world we live in. Never way left, never way right on the political spectrum, but sharing inner thoughts and observations to you the reader for well over 2,000 weeks over the course of four decades. We all owe a small debt to a faithful and wonderful person that was a part of us!
• -30- (but not forgotten)

Tom Johnson
Cross Plains, WI

NOTE: Under the ownership of his father, Wally Johnson, and the editorship of Dick Schilling, Tom Johnson started his association with Waukon newspapers in grade school with a paper route, sold advertising as a high school student and worked as a photographer and in sales after college. In the early 1980s he became general manager of the Waukon publications and then publisher in the late 1980s before leaving the Waukon newspaper realm in 2003.

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