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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, April 19, 2024

An interview with one of the oldest Cardinal alumni

Bob Lewis worked as The Daily Cardinal’s executive editor in 1942 and went on to fight in World War II.

While still working on his parents’ dairy farm in Trempealeau County, Wis., in the late 1930s, Bob Lewis knew he wanted to write for The Daily Cardinal.

“It was my dream. I had been reading The Capital Times all about the big Daily Cardinal strike,” Lewis said. “I read all about that on the farm, and I wanted desperately to get to the university.”

In late 1938, the Daily Cardinal’s board fired the newspaper’s newly appointed editor for being Jewish. When staff members went on strike to oppose the board’s decision, Lewis, now one of the oldest living Cardinal alumni, knew he wanted to join the Cardinal.

Sure enough, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor three years later, Lewis was the Cardinal’s executive editor.

“We got special permission from the publisher of the printing press to use the biggest headline that he had in the shop to run the headline ‘We Are at War,’” Lewis said. “It was big news.”

Up until Pearl Harbor, Lewis described the campus as divided about whether the United States should involve itself in the war. After the attack, however, the campus came together in support of the United States’ efforts.

“The Japanese did the best job of getting the United States united, far superior than Roosevelt was able to do,” Lewis said.

After graduating, Lewis joined the army and went overseas to fight in the war.

“I had an all-expenses-paid walking tour of Europe on the government,” Lewis said. “The only thing that spoiled the fun was that a lot of the people in Germany were shooting at us all the time. They hit me three times.”

While Lewis worked at the Cardinal, the paper celebrated its 50th anniversary, and Lewis met its founder, William Wesley Young.

During Lewis’ tenure, upwards of 200 people worked for the Cardinal, which was read throughout Madison.

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“We were the morning paper in Madison,” Lewis said. “The Cardinal was a very important force in the life of the campus.”

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