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‘Ed’ Wall, Veteran Journalist in Secular, Catholic Press, Dies at 94

A.E.P. “Ed” Wall, center, then-editor of Chicago’s archdiocesan newspaper, looks over an issue coming off the press in this 1977 Chicago Catholic file photo. (Photo: CNS/Chicago Catholic.)

ORLAND PARK, Illinois (CNS) — Arthur E. P. “Ed” Wall, a veteran journalist who spent many years in the secular press and the Catholic press, died Jan. 18 in Orland Park. He was 94.

Wall, who used A. E. P. Wall as his byline, was a former director and editor-in-chief of Catholic News Service. He held the top post at NC News Service, as it was called in those days, from 1972 to 1976.

“Ed Wall was a great journalist and editor. He had a peripatetic and amazing career that took him to Chicago, Honolulu, Washington and places in between. He was a visionary who had a large impact everywhere he served,” Tony Spence, director and editor-in-chief of CNS from 2004 to 2016, told CNS in an email Jan. 21.

“Ed was a great editor and writer, innovative executive, witty and considerate friend and courageous battler against the rare disease (multiple system atrophy) which limited his mobility but not his mind,” said Tom Lorsung, who retired as CNS director and editor-in-chief at the end of 2003, after a career at CNS which began three decades earlier.

“When Ed arrived at the then-NC News Service, the daily report was mimeographed and mailed to clients, but he established a ‘wire’ connection with clients,” Lorsung recalled in an email to CNS. “Ed was the first head of CNS to negotiate a contract with The Newspaper Guild.” Now called The NewsGuild, the union still represents CNS reporters and photographers.

Turns out Wall was no stranger to mimeographing the news report – he started out doing this for his own neighborhood papers in the 1930s. But he easily adapted to new technology and was producing his own online paper in the 2000s. He set type by hand using his boyhood Kelsey printing press and became a desktop newspaper publishing enthusiast.

He spent his last years in Orland Park, with his daughter and son-in-law. The most wonderful title he ever received, he said, was “Grandpa.”

His Orland Park years were a time of diminishing activity because of his multiple system atrophy, known as MSA. But during that time, he wrote articles for secular and religious publications and promoted awareness of the disease.

Wall was born March 12, 1925, in Jamestown, New York. He was baptized in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Celoron, New York.

While attending the University of Miami, he became a Miami Herald editorial clerk. He volunteered for the Marine Corps at 17 and was given a medical discharge a few months later. He returned to the Herald and was soon promoted to reporter and copy editor. One of his assignments was to write a weekly mini-newspaper for overseas military personnel.

His journalistic career included service as managing editor of The Honolulu Advertiser, editor of the Hilo (Hawaii) Tribune-Herald, Sunday editor of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Before helming the NC News Service, he was editor of The Catholic Review, Baltimore’s archdiocesan newspaper. After NC News, he became editor of the Chicago Catholic, the newspaper of the Chicago Archdiocese, and its predecessor, The New World.

His newspaper jobs over his long career included editor of the Central Florida Episcopalian; rewrite reporter for the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph; copy editor for the Worcester (Massachusetts) Telegram; reporter for the Peoria Journal; and editor of a national labor paper.

He was author of “The Spirit of Cardinal Bernardin” and “The Big Wave,” a contributor to “If I Were Pope,” and editor-in-chief of the “American Catholic Who’s Who.”

Wall also was active in community affairs, having been chairman of the lay board of Marianist-run Chaminade University in Honolulu; founding chairman of the Hawaii State Educational TV Commission; secretary of the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association; trustee of St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore; and a director of Our Sunday Visitor and Noll Printing Co.

He also was on the board of directors of the Florida Catholic newspapers, serving the Miami Archdiocese and other Florida dioceses. He also was president of the International Federation of Catholic Press Agencies, a member of the board of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida and a life member of three organizations – NAACP, International Order of St. Luke the Physician and Society of Mary.

At the time of his death, Wall was a member of the Chicago Headline Club, National Press Club, Overseas Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists. He also had been a longtime member of the American Civil Liberties Union, previously serving on its board in Brevard County, Florida.

Wall’s honors include a doctorate from what is now Dominican University, as well as the St. Francis de Sales Award, which is the highest award the Catholic Press Association presents to an individual for his/her “outstanding contributions to Catholic journalism.”

Other honors include the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith award for “outstanding efforts toward making the ecumenical spirit a living reality,” and Florida Writer of the Year award from the Space Coast Writers Conference.

Wall’s wife, Marcella, also known as Sally, died in Illinois in 2002. He will be interred beside her in Gerry Cemetery in New York.

He is survived by his children John Wall of San Francisco, and his wife, Pamela Heyda; Dr. Marie (Wall) Veldman of Orland Park and her husband, Dr. Mark Veldman; and David Wall of Kirkland, Washington, and his wife, Toni; his grandchildren Daniel and his wife, Margaret; Kristen and her husband, David; and Michael, Matthew, Katie and Jacob; and his great-grandchild, Theodore.

In a reflection on his late colleague shared with CNS, Lorsung said Wall “knew everybody who was anybody ‘in the day,’” from then-Father Phil Berrigan of the Catonsville Nine’s to Spiro Agnew, former Maryland Governor and later vice president.

He worked for Wall at The Catholic Review as a writer and photographer, and was hired by Wall at NC News, “so I got to witness this firsthand” these many contacts Wall had.

“Prominent names from Ed’s Rolodex” included Cardinals Joseph Bernardin and John Cody of Chicago, and Cardinal Lawrence Shehan in Baltimore; Cardinal John Wright and future Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh; Cardinal John Foley of Philadelphia.

“He got to know Archbishop Pio Laghi, papal nuncio to the U.S., having had lunch with him in Israel and Argentina. Cardinal Shehan told Ed that Pope Paul VI read the Review. He was friends with Jesuit Father Thurston Davis, longtime editor of America magazine. He interviewed controversial theologian Father Charles Curran” at The Catholic University of America in Washington.

“In Baltimore, Ed was proud of having the Review be first to publish the entire text of all Vatican II documents. His ability to make effective contacts paid off,” Lorsung said. “As he recalled in an email, ‘we arranged for the pilot, TWA I think, to bring the last documents with him on a flight from Rome and they were immediately taken to our printer.’”

Lorsung noted that in retirement Wall promoted awareness of his disease. He also “designed and mailed creative Christmas cards until recently,” Lorsung said.

“We corresponded regularly on email. I looked forward to his ‘aloha’ signature and his joking about my aversion to exclamation points, but I will use one now to say: ‘May he rest in peace!’”

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