The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, November 01, 1996, Page 5, Image 5

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center, and Alfred
Pagel perform their
skit illustrating the
“Paul Revere lead.”
Courtesy of College of Journalism and Mass Communications
I have something to tell you.
A very important man died of
cancer Thursday morning. A man
named Richard Streckfiiss. A
journalism professor who would
climb up on a desk, hold his hands
above his head
and wink at „
any student
who would
begin a
column the
way I just did.
He would
signal to his
friend and
colleague of
years, Alfred “Bud” Pagel, and the
two would immediately set the scene
for their most popular classroom
technique—their enactment of the
“Paul Revere” lead.
They would ask students to
suspend their disbelief just long
enough to be convinced that
Streckfuss was a church steeple, and
Pagel, Paul Revere.
With a signal from the steeple
(and a wink of Streckfuss’ eye),
Pagel would gallop onto the scene
and announce, in a loud, clear voice:
“f have something to tell you!” And
then he would gallop away.
Their point being, had Paul
Revere failed to tell the news up
front—if he had failed to warn his
fellow Americans that the British
were coming— ours would be a very
different world.
Richard Streckfuss didn’t just
have something to tell, he had
something to teach. And teach he
did. He entered students’lives and
made a difference.
He was a friend, a confidant and a
v mentor to me and innumerable others
who have gone through the College
of Journalism and Mass Communica
tions. And he has been distant but
I think there was something special about
him that made those who knew him want
to be better.”
Alfred Pagel
Associate professor of journalism
driving force behind the Daily
Much like Paul Revere, his legend
will live on. It will live on in the
successes of his students and the
numbers of lives they touch.
“He was one of those people... a
friend you wanted to keep in contact
with beyond the time you were in
school,” said Andy Raun, a reporter
for the Hastings Tribune and a 1993
graduate of the College of Journal
ism. “But I guess that wasn’t in the
cards. I just feel blessed that my path
crossed his.”
Streckfuss is remembered as a
man of great commitment and
compassion—a man of high
standards and understanding, and a
source of joy.
“If you are going to talk about
Dick StreckfUss, you have to talk
about how funny he was... or maybe
‘incorrigible’ is a better word,” Bud
Pagel said of the man with whom he
team-taught advanced reporting for
12 years.
“He made me laugh,” Page! said.
“He made me laugh, and he made me
think ... and he kept me honest— >
brutally so.”
Pagel describes Streckfuss as a
“tough marshmallow." i
His sweet demeanor in no way
compromised his solid standards. He1
did everything he could for his ~
students. In return, he asked only that
they they work hard and accept
nothing but excellence from them
“I think there was something
special about him that made those
who knew him want to be better... in
a lot of ways. Better journalists.
Better people,” Pagel said. “And I
think as a result of that, there’s a little
comer of the world that’s a bit
Streckfuss’ impact reached
beyond the confines of the journal
ism college. He was recognized
university-wide as a an outstanding
adviser-—one of the best, according
to Donald Gregory, the director of
the Division of General Studies.
Gregory said Streckfuss was ,
“deeply involved” in the successes of
his students.
“He just really cared about
students,” Gregory said. “He was
devoted to them outside the class
room as well as inside the classroom.
And he saw to it that they got what
Streckfuss was one of the only
professors to win Parents Association
Recognition Awards every year they
were presented. The awards are
voted an by parents and students and
recognize professors who have been
especially influential. .
“I don’t think that the students
ever had a better friend,” Pagel said.
“One of his special touches, I
think, was that he had great empathy
with the students struggling to learn
what he was teaching. And that’sa .}, —K 7
bit unusual.”
Streckfuss had an open-door
policy in his office—as do his
colleagues in the news-editorial
department. But Streckfuss was
especially sensitive to the needs of
his students. He was never too busy
to step and listen. He was never too
busy to help a student solve a
problem—no matter how small.
He never belittled students — in
fact, he had a way of challenging
them and drawing out the greatness
he saw in them. He was inspiring. He
was what a university professor is
supposed to be. And he has left a
lasting impression on all those who
knew him.
Debi Ward, journalism instructor
at Omaha Burke High School and a
1983 graduate of the College of
Journalism, said, “One thing he
taught me to do was teach the
important skills, but to still meet
people’s needs. He had his standards,
but he was always a person who
made time for the people in his life.”
He made time, and he made a
Pagel said he was told by one
graduate, “I never sit down to write
anything that Paul Revere doesn’t
flash in front of my eyes.”
Richard Streckfuss stood up for
students and for what he believed.
“He’s gone, and I’m retiring,”
Pagel said. “So maybe Paul Revera
will go away, too.”
But the memories and the message
will last.
Anne Hjersman is a senior
news-editorial aad English major
and opinion editor for the Daily