James Howard “Jim” Bartelt Was “Gentlemen Journalist” At State Capitol


This may seem like a strange way to start out the blog entry, but I was always glad that James Howard “Jim” Bartelt walked slowly.   Since he was always so interesting to talk with, and shared an interest in politics and state government it was nice to slow down and be able to chat with him as he made his way about the capitol.

When Bartelt would come down to the office of Representative Lary Swoboda and take a seat to chat he would listen and ponder, and be interested in talking.  It was more than just the fact Swoboda served from Northeast Wisconsin, or the idea that he might learn something new and useful for a news story.  While Bartelt certainly was a newsman on the hunt for a story, he also loved politics, and just talking about the events that were playing out on any given day.

Readers to this blog know I have a real soft spot for the old-time newspaper reporters who had forgotten more than any of the up-starts would ever know.  The type of journalist who knew how to report a story without burning bridges and contacts.

James Howard “Jim” Bartelt was the type of reporter who would have made a perfect “boys on the bus’ type for a major newspaper.  I can just see him at the end of a long day after coverning a candidate sitting down with a beer and retelling the stories with the best of them!

But had that happened most of us in Wisconsin would never have had the joy of talking politics and current events with him.

Long after we both had left the capitol I would run into Bartelt and he would always inquire into what was happening with either Swoboda or the politics of the First Assembly District.  He never seemed in a hurry, and that was perfect as there was never an end to the things that I wanted to talk to him about.

There are many fine reporters with the gift for conversation and a deep interest in the events they cover, but there was something very special about the institutional memory and vast experiences of James Howard “Jim” Bartelt that set him apart.  He took the time to talk, and more importantly took the time to listen.  That made him a great newspaperman.

I learned this morning that James Howard “Jim” Bartelt died this past Friday, and my thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends.

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