MADISON - Marie Pulvermacher, a pioneer among Madison women journalists, died Saturday, Jan. 12, at the Capitol Lakes Retirement Center where she had been living the past several years. She was 93.
A member of The Capital Times' staff for 42 years, Ms. Pulvermacher began her newspaper career in 1939 as a part-time librarian while a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin and by the time she retired in 1981, was the newspaper's associate editor.
In the years between, she broke many of the traditional all-male barriers that were typically entrenched in American newsrooms. She became the first woman president of the Madison Press Club, was active in the national professional women journalist's organization, Theta Sigma Chi, and was instrumental in forming the Madison chapter of Women in Communications.
Ms. Pulvermacher graduated from the UW in 1942 with a major in American Institutions. While at the university she was elected president of the Young Progressives, whose membership included names like Gaylord Nelson, who became a governor and U.S. senator; Miles McMillin, who became editor and publisher of The Capital Times; Roland Day, who served as a justice on the State Supreme Court and Carl Thompson, who went to a long career in the State Senate and was a one-time candidate for governor.
Upon graduation, her goal was to join the U.S. State Department, but William T. Evjue, the founder and then editor and publisher of The Capital Times, convinced her to stay with the paper as a full-fledged reporter. World War II had left the paper short of reporters and Ms. Pulvermacher found herself covering everything from "society" news to murders and fires. The typical work week was 60 hours, the pay $20.
Following the war, she was promoted to the copy desk and a few years later was named the editor of the new "Green" sheet, a daily four-page feature section that was printed on green-colored newsprint. Under her direction, the Green became one of the best read sections of the newspaper. She assigned daily features and helped forge a number of creative columns on everything from Madison history to a "question of the day" that featured readers' opinions on timely issues.
In 1974, the newspaper became one of the first in the country to remake its traditional "Society" pages, which in newspapers of the day served to ghettoize "women's news" in a section of their own. Most of the stories were about upper class events with lengthy descriptions of wedding dresses and engagement parties.
In its place, the paper started an expanded section called "PM," which combined the Green sheet's features, the best of human interest stories for both men and women, arts and entertainment, movie, theater and book reviews. Ms. Pulvermacher was the logical choice to lead the new section and it soon became one of the paper's most popular sections. In 1978, she was named associate editor of The Capital Times, in addition to her duties as PM editor.
She retired from the paper at the end of 1981, but her active life was to continue for years. Her love of traveling was inspired by an extended cruise she took to Europe that was highlighted by a personal travelogue of her adventures for the newspaper. The datelines included Paris, London, Frankfurt and Rome. She continued her travels in retirement. Her retirement, though, gave her more time for her love of the arts and theater. She was a staunch supporter of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Madison Opera, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.
But, she was also a big sports fan with a particular passion for the University of Wisconsin Badgers. In her younger days, she could be found at UW boxing matches in the Fieldhouse, where she had third row seats thanks to the paper's sports department.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Carl and Theresa Pulvermacher of Sauk City, a brother and two sisters. Surviving are several cousins and countless friends.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, at ST. PATRICK CATHOLIC CHURCH, 404 East Main St., Madison, with Msgr. Kevin D. Holmes presiding. Marie will be laid to rest next to her parents at St. Aloysius Catholic Cemetery, Sauk City following the lunch. A visitation will be held at 9 a.m. and until time of services Saturday at ST. PATRICK CATHOLIC CHURCH.