Sunday, December 07, 2008

Obituary: Alfred Patek - Class of 1876


Alfred B. Patek, who died in Denver recently, was an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin, class of '80, a brilliant fellow, and prominently connected with the publications of that institution in the late 70's. His home was in Milwaukee.

For a number of years he was with the New York World and the Hearst newspapers, going to Colorado in 1900 as managing editor of the Denver Times. During intervals he was managing editor of the Denver Post, editor of Denver Municipal Facts, secretary to the governor, and state immigration commissioner.

One of the historic scoops which illustrates his uncanny news sense occurred in connection with the Titanic disaster, when he was managing editor of the Denver Times. The wire that the Titanic has struck an iceberg reached Denver at 2 a.m. and was later discounted by denials, which reported that the great ship had met with a narrow escape but was afloat.

In spite of opposition from his entire staff, Patek insisted that one of the great stories of the century had "broken" and he "played it up" as few stories have been played up before or since. When the Times went on the street, it contained eight solid pages of test and pictures relative to the disaster, while contemporaries carried a scant half-column report of rumors. Despite the misgivings of his associates, Patek staked his reputation as a newspaperman that his intuitions had served him correctly -- that the Times had scooped the west on a great story. Five minutes after the papers were on the streets, a flash came over the wires confirming the disaster.

Mr. Patek's daughter, Florence Patek, is a well known newspaper woman of Chicago.

Among Mr. Patek's classmates at the university were Mr. and Mrs. Magnus Swenson, Judge A.L. Sanborn, C.F. Lamb, Justice R.G. Siebecker, Mrs. J. H. Hutchinson, *Dr. Maria Dean, who died recently in Montana, Dr. John M. Dodson of Chicago, *Dr. H.B. Favill, recently deceased, H.J. Desmond, distinguished catholic editor of Milwaukee, the late president C.R. Van Hise and F.K. Conover and A.E. Deming.

Originally published in The Madison Democrat on Thursday Morning, July 24, 1919.

Notes: Alfred Patek's class year is based on information in the 1901-1902 Annual Report of the Public Schools of the City of Madison, Wis.

*Also members of the Madison [Central] High School Class of 1876

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