Ethel Gintoft, Tom Smith, left and Eugene Horn, right, celebrate awards the Catholic Herald newspaper won in the 1968 Milwaukee Press Club competition. (Catholic Herald file photo)

Bill Thorn, chair/associate professor, Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University, former 20-year member of the Catholic Herald Advisory Board.

What brought us together as partners in the CPA and on the Herald was her absolute commitment to the roles of the Catholic press laid out in Communio et Progresso: to be a voice for the voiceless, to present the various voices and concerns of the Catholic community, to be a participant in the public dialogue on the significant issues of the day.  We spoke often of the Catholic Herald as a place where the Catholic community of southeastern Wisconsin could meet.

For many years Ethel was a journalism faculty member with a reputation in her writing course as a demanding but fair teacher. When she became associate publisher of the Herald, she no longer had time to teach, which was a loss for our students.

As one of the leaders in a generation of Catholic press editors and associate publishers dominated by priests and men, Ethel became a model for women through her skills as a journalist. It was her absolute professionalism which earned her the respect of everyone in both the Catholic press and the local secular press.

Gene Horn, worked with Ethel at the Catholic Herald for 33 years.

Ethel was unrelenting and influential in promoting the Catholic Herald among parishes of the archdiocese. She did this through direct contact with pastors and parish councils along with assistance and support of a “working board” that included media, education and business professionals in the Milwaukee area and beyond.

Ethel was especially concerned with the day-to-day performance of the newspaper in all areas of operation: business, advertising, editorial, circulation and production.

Personally, I regarded Ethel as “mother,” an endearing characterization of which she and staffers were aware.
She was “mother” in a maternal role – firm but fair in care and concern for everyone and everything in her charge. When we would disagree we would respect each other’s viewpoint and position.

(Whenever I would address Ethel as “mother,” she would smile, chuckle and respond, “Yes, son…!”).

She was “mother,” as in mother general, likened to the head of a religious community who devoted her life to serving the church.

The Catholic Herald and Catholic press have lost a true leader, colleague and friend, but Ethel will be long-remembered by all who knew her.

Barbara Beckwith, managing editor of St. Anthony Messenger magazine, Cincinnati, Ohio; vice president of the International Catholic Union of the Press; former president of Catholic Press Association. Beckwith met Ethel in the 1960s when she was a Marquette University student and Ethel was working for the Catholic Herald, and both were covering election stories.

Ethel had a bit of a habit of always looking in the corners of a room to see the young people, the outsiders, the forgotten and she would go out of her way to say, “Hello.”

… She cared about the young people in the press, and she was a role model for the women in the Catholic press, particularly.

… She taught me to listen. I think probably listening is the most important skill of a leader, and she taught me that. That she could stay so involved for so long impressed me. When she died, people said, “She can’t – she’s indomitable. She’s just kind of always there,” and I think she’s always going to be there.

I think we have our own saint in heaven, that’s what I think.

Tim Walter, executive director, Catholic Press Association; former ad manager at the Catholic Herald.

She was just a believer in the value of journalism, of Catholic journalism. She believed that both sides of the story should be told. She was a great advocate of the freedom of the press and not just the secular press, but the Catholic press as well.

… I think there are a lot of people in the Catholic press that were affected by her talents and her strengths … I know she made her mark out there but, for me, she became a friend. She became somebody to talk to, somebody to talk to about family things and so for me, it’s missing a colleague, but it’s also missing a friend.

Fr. Eugene Pocernich, chaplain at Columbia-St. Mary’s Hospital, Milwaukee. Fr. Pocernich knew Ethel for about 33 years because of his work as a priest of the archdiocese and assignment to the Office for Human Concerns.

We had many joint projects and she covered many of the issues of the times in a very professional way and with a very strong connection to our Catholic social teaching especially as an independent Catholic newspaper and it really provided the avenue for a lot of the Catholics in the archdiocese to connect with some of the local issues such as housing, and unemployment, and civil rights, and poverty, and women’s issues and so through this, through a great working relationship, we also became really good personal friends.

… Everyone was so im-pressed by the depth of her faith and her ability to use her God-given talents to be able to put that faith into action.

Deacon Michael Cullen, St. Joseph Parish, Barron, Superior Diocese. Deacon Cullen met Ethel in 1967 when she covered an event at Casa Maria, but their friendship also grew during the trying times when Deacon Cullen was deported as one of the Milwaukee 14. Ethel visited his parents in Wicklow, Ireland, to explain the situation to them. She was also instrumental in helping publish Deacon Cullen’s autobiography, “A Time to Dance.”

Ethel, of course, is just an extraordinary human being and especially as a professional reporter. There was a lot said at her funeral that, particularly the night before at the wake service, just the impact that she’s had on her family was very evident there … a single mother who raised those two boys, such wonderful young men who end up marrying and having fine children of their own. I mean, that in itself is an achievement for any human being.

… When I went through all of my trials and later on the deportation, she was faithful there … she was instrumental in my life, in introducing me again, and favorably, to Bishop (Raphael M.) Fliss in our diocese.

… She had this gift of being able to accept people and befriend people, and what a gift she was in my life, again, being able to do that for my family.

Society of the Divine Savior Fr. Joe Jagodensky. Fr. Jagodensky knew Ethel for 25 years, beginning with his work in the archdiocesan office in communications.

She didn’t teach as much as showed through example. Her professionalism and intense commitment to the Catholic press, as an objective news source, conveyed to those around her what it meant to be involved in your work and your church. Her personality was always bringing people together and celebrating each other’s life. She had a knack for drawing out the best in people.

… Her sense of humor (will be remembered). Not only her wit, which was always sharp and quick, but her appreciation of the life’s paradoxes and living the best we can in spite of setbacks.

Fr. Guy Gurath, member in solidum team of Holy Rosary Parish, Fredonia; St. Mary Parish, Belgium; and Our Lady of the Lakes Parish, Random Lake. When Fr. Gurath was in communication in Austin Texas on loan from Milwaukee in 1982, he and Ethel attended the annual Catholic Press Convention in Phoenix, Ariz., around the time she became president.

Ethel just was a class act all the way and it was an honor for me to be at her funeral Mass last week at St. John’s Cathedral.

… Ethel Gintoft was Catholic both with a small “c” universal and the big “C,”… I think she attempted, in her years at the Catholic Herald, to really make it a newspaper that reached out not only toward 10 counties but also to the wider church, the wider world, so we were just blessed to have her in our archdiocese. So I guess I would just paraphrase Shakespeare, “Goodnight sweet princess, the flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

… For certain people you just have nothing but good memories, and I’d have to say that for me, in regard to Ethel Gintoft, nothing but good memories about her.