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Brian Lund retires from the Republican Journal
brian lund 2024
Brian Lund was announced as the publisher of the Republican Journal on March 3, 1983. He remained with the newspaper for the next 41 years before retiring June 28, 2024. - photo by Tammy Kilby

DARLINGTON — Brian Lund has retired after more than 40 years as the Publisher of the Republican Journal. His last day was June 28, 2024.

The former owner of the ‘RJ’, Lund has held many titles as he grew up in the newspaper business. His first job started his career stuffing newspapers at the age of 10 years old in McHenry, Ill. His grandfather, Arnold Lund, owned one-third of the McHenry Plaindealer at the time. His dad, Larry Lund, was the newspaper’s publisher. From sixth grade through high school, Brian Lund was using the Addressograph machine, a machine used to print addresses for subscriptions. He was getting more efficient with the machine, improving his time as his experience with the machine grew. 

“I could keep the foot pedal down and ribbon moving, while getting the addresses printed faster,” Lund said.

The Addressograph machine used a debossing system, with address plates that had pushed out letters, contained in a cassette-style plate feeder. There was an inked ribbon and a roller that went over the top of the addresses. It was run by a foot pedal that swapped out the plates, thus printing an address onto each newspaper. 

Lund admitted that he had the idealistic life growing up as a kid in McHenry. He remembers how he and his dad would go to the bakery and get long johns, then go over to the Plaindealer building and racing office chairs in the huge building that was part of it. 

Graduating from McHenry High School in 1976, Lund attended Carthage College in Kenosha and the University of Miami (Fla.). In 1978, he led the Circulation Department at the Monroe Evening Times, where his father was publisher and owner for several years. Lund also worked in the advertising department for a number of years. 

In 1983, it was announced that Brian A. Lund would be the Publisher of the Republican Journal. The announcement was presented on the front page of the Republican Journal, published Thursday, March 3, 1983. The news was presented by the Darlington Publishing Company, which was co-owned by Larry Lund and James Bruce. At the time, the Republican Journal cost 25-cents per copy. 

In the early 1990s, Lund would become the owner of the ‘RJ’. He would eventually sell the Republican Journal to Morris Newspapers of Wisconsin, on Oct. 1, 2003, continuing his role as publisher. The Republican Journal has earned two distinguished awards while Lund has been publisher. Earning 2nd in General Excellence, which is one of the highest honors to earn; and Best Spot News Story with the McDonald murder trial in the 1980s.

“That was one of the most difficult stories,” Lund said. “They didn’t tell us much, so we didn’t know what to expect going into the trial, which was held in Milwaukee.” 

Former Lafayette County Circuit Judge Daniel McDonald was found guilty in the stabbing death of Darlington attorney James Klein in 1985.

Lund also said the floods of the 1990s stayed with him. He remembers water in the basement of the ‘RJ’ many years ago. 

“The basement filled completely with water. Now, back at that time, Bowden Curtiss owned it. The paper, they used came in on the train, which would have been convenient as the Darlington Depot is just a block away,” Lund said. “They kept the newspaper down in the basement, and when the water came in, the paper absorbed all the water and it all expanded, lifting the Republican Journal building off the foundation. The dangerous task of going into the basement to pull the wet paper out by the handfuls, all while the building is resting on top of it, made for an interesting situation. After that, the Curtiss family kept the paper at their residence until it was needed.”

Back in those days, newspaper production wasn’t digital as it is today. Draft-style tables lined the wall of the Republican Journal building at that time. There were several light tables that accompanied them. Pages were made-up by hand by cutting galleys of type and pasting, which was literally done by using a scissors and applying wax paste onto the back of a photograph, typed-out text or clip-art. The artwork was updated periodically when a new Metro Book was sent in the mail. The art was used to embellish the look of the newspaper when needed. 

“Getting a new Metro Book was exciting,” Lund said. “It was refreshing to look through it and see all the new clip-art.” 

Lund also remembers getting newspaper ink all over his hands and clothes when printing. There was also an Apple MacIntosh computer and the Apple laser printer known as ‘the Laser God’ that took small floppy disks that were saved to a hard drive. It saved time as far as printing was concerned and changed everything for newspapers.

Photography was also more of a challenge, especially when developing the negatives. 

“The chemicals had to be just the right temperature, and the water had to be almost perfect to get the right mix. A dark room, a room that blocked out light, natural or artificial, had to be pitch black, to process and develop the pictures successfully,” Lund said. 

The employee break room at the RJ used to be the dark room, he said. 

“The biggest challenge was threading the film on the reel, making sure the film didn’t get doubled in one of the grooves. If that happened, several pictures would be ruined. If a person wasn’t careful, they might only get a few photos from an entire roll of film,” he said.

Lund described time spent on processing as being another challenge itself. “Because of the length of the process, usually a 4-hour procedure, newspapers used what they could. I would come into the dark room and start developing pictures on Sundays,” he said.

Photography is a favorite pastime of Lund’s. Most days he can be seen wearing his camera around his neck, hoping to capture that perfect moment in time. He has an eye for seeing the ideal angle, capturing the best light, and seeing the beauty in the simplest things. His experience has broadened with his panoramic views, some of which have been published in the Republican Journal. In addition to taking pictures, Lund has a large extensive collection of cameras. 

“I have about 1,000 cameras or more,” Lund said. “My first camera was a Canon TX, gifted to me from my dad. Then I went to an antique auction and thought some of the older ones were kind of neat, so I bought them. They’re dated around the 1880s through 1970s. My favorite has a wooden tripod, old bellows, and a brass lens.” 

Camera collecting is a unique market, and Lund wanted more. 

brian lund 1983
Brian Lund was announced as the publisher of the Republican Journal on March 3, 1983. He remained with the newspaper for the next 41 years before retiring June 28, 2024.

“At one point, I put an ad in the newspaper saying that we were buying old cameras. People used to bring them in, and I bought them all,” he said.

He also has a collection of items passed down from his father, including a wooden tube radio and vintage typewriter. Those items that have meaning will remain in Lund’s collection, as he admits he will be downsizing at some point.

Lund has been, and continues to be part of the Darlington community. He retired after 18 years as a volunteer fire fighter with the Darlington Fire Department. He’s held several offices within the department and has been very involved with Canoe Fest. He has held offices in the Jaycees, the Darlington Chamber, and was part of the Canoe Fest committee. 

Lund and his wife Diane reside in Darlington. His family has been supportive of his work with the Republican Journal, even having odd jobs there throughout the years. He has three children — Tara, who passed away in 2016; Carly, who lives in Darlington; and Ian, who resides in the Middleton area. He also has three stepchildren. They include Jessica and her husband Eric, Cary and his wife Sunny, and Casey and his wife Rachel. Brian and Diane have nine grandchildren altogether. Brian’s mother Lynn and sister Margo reside in North Carolina, and another sister, Miranda, lives in Indiana.

Through the years, Lund says he worked with several talented and hardworking individuals. 

“This office was once filled with people,” he said, as all hands were needed on Tuesdays when the Republican Journal was in the process of being published. Thinking of all the people in the Republican Journal office, he said he is honored to have worked with them all.

As Lund has good things to say about those he’s worked with through the years, the feeling is mutual. He says he received letters from Jeff Samuels, Vice President of Morris Multimedia Inc.; and John Ingebritsen, Publisher of Morris Newspapers, Inc. He appreciates their kind words during his departure.

“I was lucky to have my introduction to a small town newspaper be under a publisher like Brian,” said Adam Ploessl, Republican Journal ad sales. “His work ethic, understanding of local government, and his years in the newspaper business gave me an appreciation of the work it takes to make a great local newspaper, and I think the RJ is a reflection of this.”

Alexus Lucey, Republican Journal classifieds, also had fond thoughts about Lund. 

“It was a privilege to work with Brian for the last five years that I’ve been here. He’s the most laid back guy. We are going to miss him,” Lucey said. “This place won’t be the same without his stories of past years and funny mishaps that have happened.”

Don Osterday, who retired as proofreader on the same day as Lund, shared is co-worker’s sentiments. 

“Brian is a great guy. He’s one of the nicest people to know and work with,” Osterday said.

In retirement, Lund says he’s going to miss the ‘RJ’. He has projects to work on, but he’s not making many plans just yet. He enjoys photography, which he will likely continue. He generally likes all music but his favorite genres are grunge and classic rock. In all, he has a collection of over 1,000 vinyl albums. He enjoys playing a round of golf with his wife and friends. In fact, the seventh hole flower garden at the Darlington Country Club is maintained by the Lund family.

He credits the community of Darlington for their acceptance and welcome so many years ago. 

“It’s because of you that the RJ has been so prosperous,” he said. “I thank you for all of your support over the years.”