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July 31, 1929 ~ September 13, 2022 (age 93) 93 Years Old
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Werner Veit, Newspaper editor and publisher, Michigan Hall-of-Fame journalist, interviewer of U.S. presidents, state prison rioters and hockey players, multi-lingual and multi-country emigre, army paratrooper, staunch environmentalist, lover of soccer, day hikes, mystery novels and crossword puzzles has died at age 93 at the Green House Homes of Porter Hills Village. Werner met his wife Marianne while working at the Red Barn Theatre in Saugatuck as an amateur stage manager. They were married 61 years until her death in 2019 and are survived by son, Anthony (Nancy) Veit, daughters Tamilyn Kraeger and Andrea (Michael) Schreiber; granddaughters Allison Fox, Carrie (Kevin) Porter, Whitney (Andrew) McGoram, Victoria (Nick) Gottschlich, Emily (Max Rosenberg) Schreiber, Isabel (Tom Corrigan) Schreiber, and seven great grandchildren. He once claimed to know about all things except agriculture and aerodynamics which only suggests that he started keeping track backwards, trying to satisfy his insatiable curiosity about everything from Z to B. He was born in Stuttgart in 1929, escaping Nazi Germany at age 8 with his Jewish father and Protestant mother via commercial freighter to Bogota, Columbia. In 1940, after attending a Jesuit school that he described fondly as a place for boyish hijinks, he and his parents emigrated to the U.S. and settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he attended Grand Rapids Central High School, performing in school plays and editing the school newspaper. These early experiences made him curious and broad-minded about cultures and religion, fervently regarding education as a guardian of democratic values. He joined the U.S. Army at age 18, choosing paratrooper training for the hazardous duty pay but also, he claimed, because he and his fellow soldiers were expected to make their own way back to the base after practice jumps, giving them a modicum of freedom. The Army also put him on a fast track to citizenship. After discharge, he briefly attended the University of Maryland until returning to Grand Rapids to work as a newspaper reporter first at the Grand Rapids Herald, and then the Grand Rapids Press, where he launched their first Sunday paper at age 26, was named editor-in-chief at age 37 and ultimately publisher and president of Booth Newspapers, a group of eight daily newspapers in Michigan. His newspaper legacy includes early progress towards diversifying newsrooms and promoting young talent; and embracing technology, insisting on confronting, not fearing innovation. Of newspapers he said, "They have to be a unifying force for all the conflicting challenges our society faces. They must be a champion for those who cannot easily champion themselves. They must be a forum for the voice of others." Werner and Marianne were devoted and generous supporters of arts, civic, social and environmental causes in Michigan. Among many organizations, Werner was particularly involved at Fountain Street Church, the Nature Conservancy in Michigan and the North Country Trail Association. He also served on the commemorative and funeral committees for former president Gerald R. Ford. The date for a memorial service at Fountain Street Church is to be announced. The family suggests donations in Werner's honor be made to The Nature Conservancy in Michigan or an organization of the donor's choice.