When Lou Bate chose newspapering as a career, it was a blue collar job and you worked your way up from the bottom as an apprentice. When he retired in 1987, the profession was quickly becoming a white-collar computerized world. Silence had replaced the clack of typewriter keys and the cries of "Copy!"
Bate died last Wednesday at age 82. Those who remember him as the Deseret News city editor remember him fondly, but always with an anecdote about his grit and firm hand. Now, with his passing, the old stories are surfacing again. The day he slammed the telephone down so hard he broke the headset in half, for instance. Or the day a staffer got married over lunch and was 10 minutes late getting back to work.
"Where you been?" barked Bate.
"Oh ...well ...take an extra 60 minutes."
The Professional Lou and the Personal Lou were never at odds, but they were often distinct. The Personal Lou loved working over old antiques, had a shy smile and would rather sit in the dark wearing sunglasses before going to the dentist to fix a toothache.
The Professional Lou seemed to come fully formed from the movie screen where reporters barked "Get me rewrite!" and "Kill the bulldog and re-make the split page!"
The newsroom of Lou Bate was a noisy place, and he had a voice that could cut through the clatter. He knew his stuff. Nobody second-guessed him because he didn't second-guess himself. And his sense of confidence and professionalism seeped into his staff. He could do everybody else's job better than they could. A native of the Midwest, he served in the infantry during World War II and brought the sensibilities and integrity gained from both to his positions at the paper.
Whenever he attended Deseret Morning News functions in recent years, people flocked to greet him and chat.
He was more than a mentor, friend or colleague.
He was the model of what a man and a newsman should be.