Mildred Wallhausen, publisher of The Enterprise-Courier since 1969 and a member of the newspaperʼs staff for 73 years, died Thursday, February 19, 2009 at her home in East Prairie at the age of 94.
Mrs. Wallhausen served The Enterprise-Courier at various times as publisher, proofreader, advertising salesperson, bookkeeper, business manager, file clerk, stuffer, mailer, office supply store manager, circulation manager, reporter, photographer, editorial writer, society editor, and since 1970 the author of a weekly column, “Millieʼs Soapbox.” For a brief period, she also managed The East Prairie Eagle after she and her husband purchased that newspaper in the 1940s.
In recognition of her more than 60 years of exemplary contributions to the newspaper industry, the Missouri Press Association (MPA) named her to the prestigious MPA Hall of Fame. That award was presented at the annual MPA Convention in St. Louis in September 2000.
A fixture at meetings of the Southeast Missouri Press Association for many years, she served that organization as a Board Member, officer, and as President in 1981. Upon stepping down as President, she became the organizationʼs semi-permanent Historian, a position she held until her death.
She worked unselfishly for the betterment of her community and to improve the lot of individuals with whom she has come in contact. She served on numerous unpaid and unglamorous committees. For six decades, first with her husband and later on her own, she worked tirelessly and personally to enhance the quality of life and to encourage participation in community affairs, with special emphasis on the large minority population of this area. She was also a member of the NAACP and the Mississippi County Community Churches organization, from which she received an award in 1997. She has also intervened in a very personal way, “adopting”, after the death of her husband in 1969, a succession of young women who were wards of the juvenile court, and providing a stable home environment for them.
This brief summary merely touches on the dozens of activities which kept this remarkable woman busy operating a business, working for her community, and engaging in personal and private works of charity and kindness for seven decades. She never lost her belief, which she acted upon regularly, that newspapers can and must play an important role in leading their communities, and that citizens owe society a certain level of unpaid service. She exemplified all that is best about home-town journalism. In her spare time, (among many other civic activities) she served on the Missouri Governorʼs Comprehensive Health Planning Council from 1969-1973 and on the state Mental Health Task Force; on the Regional Planning Council; on the Charleston Park and Recreation Board; on the Charleston Senior Citizens Housing Project Board; served as president of the Mississippi County Tuberculosis Association from 1945 to 1953; was president of the Eugene Field School and Charleston High School Parent Teachers Associations; was president of two womenʼs federated clubs (the Athena Club in Charleston and the Womanʼs Improvement Club in East Prairie; and from 1993 until her death was a Commissioner of the East Prairie Housing Authority. From 1995 until 1998, she was a member of the Community Advisory Board of the Southeast Missouri State University public radio station, KRCU. For many years she also served on the Board of the Community Sheltered Workshop, on Charlestonʼs Missouri Community Betterment Committee, and as a Sunday School teacher, first at the Baptist Church in Charleston, later at Concordia Lutheran Church in Sikeston, and most recently at St. Paulʼs Episcopal Church in Sikeston, where she was a member at the time of her death. She was named Charlestonʼs “Woman of the Year” in 1973.
Mrs. Wallhausen was born in Brooklyn, NY, April 3, 1914, daughter of Gustav and Julia Herrle Knoop. After the death of her mother in 1918, she and a brother were placed in an orphanage. She was soon taken from the orphanage and raised by Harry and Florence Elizabeth Bronson Van de Water of Queens, NY. She never again saw her brother. After the death of Mrs. Van de Water in the early 1920s, Mildred was adopted by Mrs. Van de Waterʼs sister, Frances Bronson Savell and her husband James Meroe Savell of Queens. While in high school, she lived in Wauchula, Florida, with the Rev. and Mrs. Joel F. Savell, parents of James Savell, and graduated from Wauchula High School. After graduation, she returned to New York to work as a secretary and attend college, but her college career was cut short by the Depression.
In the 1930s, while visiting an aunt in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, where the Rev. Mr. Savell had served as pastor of the First Baptist Church, she took a temporary job with the Daily American Republic newspaper. It was there that she met her husband, Art L. Wallhausen Sr., a University of Missouri School of Journalism graduate and a reporter for the Poplar Bluff newspaper.
In 1935, he purchased The Enterprise-Courier, and after a long-distance courtship between Charleston and Poplar Bluff, they were married at the church of his childhood, Immanuel Lutheran Church in Sweet Springs, Missouri. He died in 1969 after a long illness.
Mrs. Wallhausen is survived by a son and daughter-in-law, Art L. Wallhausen Jr. and Helen Anne Wallhausen of Cape Girardeau; a son-in-law and daughter, James and Elizabeth Gail Anderson of East Prairie, with whom she lived for many years; three grandchildren, Arthur L. (Tre) Wallhausen III of Cape Girardeau, Matthew E. (Laura) Wallhausen of Jackson, and Kellie (Damon) Bone of East Prairie; and six great-grandchildren, Joshua Shane Golightly, Dalton James Golightly, Mary Elizabeth Irene Bone, Damon Lee Bone III, Nicholas Wallhausen, and Katherine Wallhausen; two step-great-granddaughters, Michelle Magee and Kayla Bone. Also surviving are a foster daughter, Sheila Mays and her husband Bill Mays of Sikeston, and two foster grandchildren. In addition to her husband, parents, and foster parents, she was preceded in death by a grandson, Eric Christian Anderson. and a foster brother, Joel Savell.
Friends may call from 12:30 p.m. until the funeral hour 1:30 p.m., Sunday, February 22, 2009 at McMikle Funeral Home in Charleston. Father Arnold Hoffman, Pastor of the St. Paul Episcopal Church in Sikeston will officate. Swayne Byrd of Charleston will serve as eulogist. Interment will follow in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery near Charleston under the direction of McMikle Funeral Home. Pallbearers will be: Arthur L. (Tre) Wallhausen, Matthew E. Wallhausen, Joshua Shane Golightly, Dalton James Golightly, Damon Lee Bone, Jr., Nicholas Wallhausen and Shane Golightly.
Memorials may be made to: Charleston Kiwanis Club Scholarship Fund PO Box 392 Charleston MO 63834 Susanna Wesley Family Learning Center 200 S. Washington East Prairie, MO 63845