Former journalism classmates collaborate on a book of reflections 60 years in the making.
By Jim Higgins, Jour ’79
Reading the collection of 30 essays bound in Linked by Ink: Marquette Journalism Grads Reflect on Six Decades is like opening a time capsule. Alumni from the Class of 1961 and adjacent years describe attending classes in metal-roofed Quonset huts left over from World War II and visiting newsrooms with clattering Teletype machines. Some of the men had already served in the armed forces or expected to do so after graduation.
The writers express amazement at how technologically skilled today’s college students are. But don’t underestimate these octogenarians. Their mastery of Zoom videoconferencing software made this book possible.
Journalism 1961 graduates Gloria (Bester) Ford, Carol (Tylutki) Hebbring, Mel (Lytle) Kelly, Lari (Valerian) O’Brien and Claudia (Goodrich) Stone had been reuniting formally and informally with fellow Marquette classmates over the years. Then came the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic. The ’61ers helped 1960 graduates have their 60th reunion over Zoom in 2020. Conversations often moved to their education and the state of journalism today. Someone — Ford believes it was Stone or O’Brien — suggested they had a book.
Working on this project has “brought us a great deal closer,” Ford says of her bond with her Marquette friends. “It has given us firsthand experience about each other’s talents . …We are still women who want to use that talent.”
“The Wild Girls,” as the five have dubbed themselves, asked alums to write 500 to 1,000 words about their experiences at Marquette and beyond. Linked by Ink contributors include graduates with strong editorial careers, such as James Gannon, Jour ’61, former editor of the Des Moines Register; and Neil Milbert, Jour ’61, a Chicago Tribune sportswriter for more than 40 years. But their life stories also demonstrate the flexible value of a journalism education. While living in Hawaii and raising three children, Stone became fascinated with the geology of Oahu, earning her master’s degree. Geology jobs were a shoo-in after interviewers learned she also had a degree in journalism, she writes. “Many people cannot write well or quickly and specialists who can in any field are sought after.”
Editing their classmates’ essays and bios, the Wild Girls realized they needed a stylebook. Voila! Ford had a Marquette Tribune stylebook (1954 edition), which became their editorial guide.
Linked by Ink looks backward, but the Wild Girls and their classmates like to pay it forward. Starting with their 50th reunion year, they’ve raised funds for an annual scholarship to help support a Marquette journalism student. Book proceeds go to that effort, as well.
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