Austin Wehrwein of St. Paul, who won the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting, lived a life of the mind.
Wehrwein, a Minneapolis Star editorial page writer from 1966 to 1982, died of congestive heart failure on Tuesday at his St. Paul home. He was 92.
Wehrwein won the Pulitzer for a series of articles on the politics, economics and industrial development of Canada, when he was a reporter for the old Milwaukee Journal.
"He was in his bones, as well his brain, a man of ideas. And so to be with him was to live in the mind," said Kate Stanley, a former Star Tribune editorial writer.
After he retired, he would clip Stanley's articles and send them to her with a critique. "He considered the newspaper belonged to all of us, and was doing his part by keeping an eye on me," she said. "He was a fascinating conversationalist, a one-in-a-million intellect."
Wehrwein grew up in Madison, Wis., graduating with a degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin there in 1937.
In 1940, he earned a law degree at Columbia University in New York, but decided to go into journalism, landing a job at the Associated Press' Madison bureau.
During the war, he was in the Army Air Forces, assigned to work on military newspapers, later reporting for the Stars and Stripes newspaper in Shanghai, China.
In 1951, the Milwaukee Journal hired him. Later, he worked for publications such as the New York Times and Time magazine.
In a memoir, he recalled what it was like working for newspapers in the 1940s. "There were more newspapers, and they had scant competition from broadcasting. The pay was puny. Often hiring credentials were too," he wrote. "Some very good reporters boasted that they never went to college, let alone pantywaist journalism school."
He was a stringer for many national publications, especially proud of his 40-year association with the Economist.
Sally Williams, the Star Tribune books editor, was a Star editorial copy editor who worked with Wehrwein.
"I do remember he had a marvelous, driving curiosity," she said. "He would not stay put in the building."
The joke was: "Where's Austin?" said Williams, adding that he left a coat and boots in his office to give the impression he was in the building. Often, he was not, dashing off to one meeting or another about the law, economy or politics.
He won the American Bar Association Gavel Awards in 1969 and 1971. In 1982, he and co-workers won Unity Awards in Media for their series on "Indians in Minnesota."
In addition to his wife of 57 years, Judy, of St. Paul, he is survived by three sons, Sven of Minneapolis, Paul of St. Paul and Peter of Newton, Mass.; a daughter, Joanna of Seattle, and nine grandchildren.
Services will be held at 2 p.m. May 24 at Lakewood Cemetery Memorial Chapel, 3600 Hennepin Av., Minneapolis.