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Ink still flowing through his veins

Brownton man’s newspaper career started in the 1930s. Chuck (Charles H.) Warner II was born with ink in his blood. His father, Chas. H. Warner I, who was born in Indiana in August of 1866 was co-publisher of the Aitkin Age newspaper in 1900. In the fall of 1866 Chuck’s parents settled on a hardwood timber farm in Wright County, Minnesota. The first Charles H. Warner taught school and read law. He was also Secretary Republican State Central Committee in 1904 and Superintendent of the State Immigration Department 1905-1906. He was a member of the state legislature from 1911 through the 1915 sessions. Chuck followed in his footsteps in the newspaper business as well as politics. Is there enough ink to tell the full story of Chuck Warner and his lifetime achievements? … Let’s see find out… Chuck, the second Charles H., was born in 1924 in Aitkin, Minn. to Chas. H. Warner and Esther (Huston) Warner. They had another child, a daughter, named Nancy. When Chuck was only 1½ years old his father, age 59, died in 1926. So his mother raised him and his older sister, Nancy (Warner) Berry. “My mother had to be tough and she was. She wasn’t going to let you screw around,” he said. His mother, who was a teacher at Aitkin, kept him active in many activities. She was very well respected. “I set up a scholarship foundation in 1989 in her name at Aitkin High School and we give out $4,000 every year,” Warner said. The foundation is still giving out scholarships to Aitkin students. His mother died in 1989 at the age of 95. When he was 13 years old, Chuck was on the Aitkin High School football team and played in three varsity games. The Aitkin team was rated as the top Minnesota power football team of the decade. The next year he was named to the first team as quarterback. He played five seasons with the varsity football team in Aitkin High School. He was also a 5-year member of the varsity band, a bass soloist in the choir, appeared in numerous plays, on the debate team, in 7th grade was the class vice president, then in 9th grade was the class president, was the student council president and was a member of basketball, track, hockey and baseball teams. He also boxed in senior Golden Gloves when he was 14 years old. He was three years below minimum age. Whew! When he wasn’t participating in his school activities he was working at various newspaper offices and attending Boy Scouts. In 1940, he earned the Eagle Scout Award with a record 23 merit badges at the age of 16. After he graduated from Aitkin High School he worked at various newspapers. In 1947 he enrolled at Moorhead State Teachers College. In the four years at Moorhead State, Warner was the oldest fellow on the football team, got the nickname of “choo-choo” and played defensive guard. He earned four varsity football letters at Moorhead State. At the age of 38, with two broken ribs, he played four quarters of an alumni-varsity football game. Besides his work on the college newspaper, M Club and football team, Chuck sang in the college choir, is a member of the Owl frat — Alpha Phi Gamma, journalism fraternity, was mid-century homecoming chairman, appeared in several college plays, business manager and matchmaker for the Dragon boxing team and participated in intramural basketball and softball. In 1981 he was put on the Distinguished Alumni list. Chuck is proud of his work at Moorhead State especially since he worked his own way through school, at least 30 hours every week at a downtown print shop. It was at Moorhead State where he met his wife, Eunice. They were both members of the college choir and graduated in 1951. He wanted to marry Eunice (after they graduated) and got engaged in their junior year of college. After they graduated, Eunice wanted to get a job first so she could show her dad that he made a good investment by sending her to college. She took on a job at Wadena where she taught music for one year. In June of 1952 they tied the knot. The union was blessed with five children, Sue, Charles III, Mary Ann, Beth and Kay. Their first daughter, Sue, died from a heart condition when she was only nine years old. Charles the III followed in his father’s footsteps and worked/owned newspapers. Mary, Beth, and Kay all went into teaching and Kay is currently the activities director at the Glencoe-Silver Lake High School. Chuck and Eunice have nine grandchildren, three great-grandchildren with one more on the way. Eunice, to this day, is teaching piano lessons and both are very active members of their church in Brownton. “Newspapering has been in my blood for years. I began selling the Aitkin Republican and the Aitkin Independent Age on the street in 1935”, said Warner. He was only 11-years old at the time. The next year he became the printer’s devil and that was just the beginning.     “They let me fool around with the linotype and I got pretty efficient at it,” he said. “I then went up to Park Rapids and worked there. He also worked at the Hubbard County Journal, Moorhead Daily News, Clay Sunday Press in Moorhead, and the Princeton Union. His duties were a sports editor, linotype operator and  I also worked at the AP desk. If I was going to buy my own newspaper, I figured I better learn how to run a newspaper. But I didn’t have any money anyway.” He purchased the Brownton Bulletin in 1953 and was a one-man newspaper gang — compositor, pressman, linotype operator, bookkeeper, ad salesman, news editor, printer’s devil, and reporter who wrote his stories in hot type. Chuck recalls when he first bought the Bulletin he was making ad-selling rounds that first winter and day-dreaming of the day he could afford more staff and equipment. Maybe, he thought the Bulletin might some day start winning awards. He credits hard work on a long road and a certain amount of luck for the paper’s achievements. For 32 years the Bulletin was his pride and joy. His most humbling and gratifying experience was winning the state Mills Trophy for the best weekly newspaper in 1985. “It was the first small paper to get consideration,” Warner said modestly. The Bulletin was known as one of the nation’s best small town papers. In the last 13 years the Bulletin won 104 state and national awards for excellence. His son, Charlie and daughter, Kay, were part of the Bulletin covering news, sports and photography. In 1986 he gave the Brownton Bulletin to the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation (MNF). The gift to the MNF was total — the newspaper, all its equipment, a modern building next to the Brownton bank and facing the post office — the heart of town. The Foundation decided it did not possess the financial stability to run a newspaper and told Warner it would accept his gift if he would accede to the sale of the paper. And that’s what happened. In his 87 years here on earth, Warner has owned or co-owned 15 weekly newspapers and built a central printing plant. His weekly newspapers were The Bulletin in Page, N.D., Brownton Bulletin, Norwood Times, Winthrop News, Hutchinson Leader, Glencoe Enterprise, Olivia Times-Journal, Wadena Pioneer-Journal, Staples World, Litchfield Independent-Review, Spicer-New London, Stewart Tribune, Atwater, Fairfax Standard and the Gibbon Gazette. He was co-owner of the Crow River Press in Hutchinson. During his newspaper days, Warner was President of the Second District Editorial Association, 1981 President of the Minnesota Newspaper Association (MNA), Member of the MNA legislative committee since 1969, received the Al McIntosh Award in 1989, attended every annual MNA convention since 1954, and has given the invocation at MNA banquets 26 times. While he was in Brownton he was involved with other activities to keep him occupied other than running the Bulletin. He was a justice of the peace for 15 years, Mayor for 11 years, city councilman the last 11 years and counting, vice-chair of the school board and first chair of the Brownton Area Development Commission, Organizer and first chair of the Brownton Community Fund, chairman of a 22 county Southwest Minnesota EMS, 26-year member of McLeod County HRA in which he was chairman for 20 years, 34-year member of the Brownton Fire Department, former chair of the McLeod County Republican party, member of the Brownton baseball board for 38 years and member of the Lions, Brownton Civic & Commerce Assn., Masons and Zuhrah Shrine. He served as state president of three organizations: Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame, Minnesota Newspaper Association and the Minnesota Association of Regional Development Organizations. Chuck played his first baseball game for Hickory of the Upper Mississippi League in 1940. While being Linotype operator and sports editor at Princeton, Chuck managed the baseball team in the Central Minnesota League. While on the Brownton baseball board he was general chairman for the 1964, 1971, 1980, 1987, and 1996 state amateur baseball tournaments. In 2011 he was honorary chairman of the state tournament held in Brownton and Glencoe. He was head of the Brownton state tournament committee from 1959 through 1997, president of the Class A Twins Trails League, treasurer of the High Island League, and was founder and first president of the Ara Wilson League. He served on the executive committee of the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame since 1990. In 1981 he was named to the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame. Chuck sold all his newspapers but still writes a column for the McLeod County Chronicle in Glencoe and still makes Brownton his home. He has an office in Brownton on main street, called “Chuck’s Office”. The office is plastered with awards he has won, baseball memorabilia, a huge sword fish, family photos, a dial-up telephone and his old typewriter. No computer. No cell phone. His radio is on and it is playing old-time music. So the ink is still in his blood but not as thick as it used to be. I guess it is time to quit writing about Chuck Warner because we are running out of ink.

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