Remmel was more than just Packers reporter

Jeff Ash
Gannett Wisconsin Media
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Press-Gazette writers Art Daley, center, and Lee Remmel, right, work in the Lambeau Field press box during the Packers’ preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 27, 1966. Daley covered the Packers for the Press-Gazette from 1941 to 1968; Remmel did so from 1945 to 1974, then joined the Packers as director of public relations.

Haggling over money with the tight-fisted Green Bay Packers when they wanted to hire him in 1974, Lee Remmel ran short on patience and told team president Dominic Olejniczak: "Look, I already have a good job."

That he did.

Remmel had worked for the Green Bay Press-Gazette for more than 29 years when Packers coach Dan Devine surprised him by interrupting an interview to ask whether he'd be interested in running the NFL team's public relations staff.

Remmel loved the newspaper job because it allowed him to cover the Packers, a beat he started working just after World War II.

But the versatile sportswriter also covered lots of other things. He almost certainly wrote more stories about high school sports than about his beloved Packers.

Take, for example, the Press-Gazette sports section of Monday afternoon, Oct. 8, 1945. That day, the 21-year-old Lee Remmel had two bylined stories.

On the front page of the sports section was Remmel's story about De Pere's victory over Kewaunee in a high school football game from the previous Saturday afternoon. (There was no Sunday paper at that time.)

You had to turn the page to find Remmel's sidebar — you know it as a notebook today — on the Packers' 57-21 victory over the Detroit Lions from the previous day.

It was the first Packers game Remmel covered for the Press-Gazette. He convinced sports editor Ray Pagel to let him help cover the game by agreeing to pay his own way to State Fair Park in Milwaukee.

Remmel also was passionate about bowling, writing a weekly column and a bowler-of-the-month feature for years. He was the director of the old Press-Gazette Bowling Tournament and a director of the Green Bay Bowling Association for 34 years. He was inducted into the association's Hall of Fame in 1974.

When longtime Howard bowling proprietor Leo Delvoye retired in 2005, he fondly recalled Remmel's involvement with the Press-Gazette tournament, once the largest newspaper-sponsored singles tournament in the nation. Remmel worked with the area's bowling centers to decide where the tournament would take place, then helped round up the prizes.

"It was really nice working with Lee Remmel and having a martini every once in a while with him," Delvoye said. "I really enjoyed that."

Even after leaving the newspaper in 1974, Remmel occasionally bowled with his former co-workers in the Press-Gazette league at the old Bay Bowl, doing so into the early 1980s.

Remmel covered the old Green Bay Bobcats semiprofessional hockey team from its inception in 1958 until the early 1970s and was its publicity director for a time. He also covered the 1960 U.S. Olympic hockey team as it trained in Green Bay, then piled into a DC-3 with the team as it flew to the Winter Games in Squaw Valley, Calif.

He headed north to Iron Mountain, Mich., each winter to write about ski jumping tournaments that once drew Olympians and other top international jumpers.

The prolific Remmel also wrote a regular column called "Personality Parade."

"One thing I really enjoyed doing," Remmel said in 2007, was "interviewing some interesting people, like (boxer) Joe Louis and (baseball players) Warren Spahn, Henry Aaron, (figure skater) Peggy Fleming."

Then there was the interview with golfer Gary Player.

"Interviewed him in Salt Lake City when I was on vacation," Remmel said. "He mentioned apartheid. All of a sudden there was sound of something falling. Didn't want any part of that."

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