Three Questions for George Hesselberg ’73

George Hesselberg headshot
Photo credit: Joseph W. Jackson III

Name: George Hesselberg

Title: Person of Interest

Graduation year and degree: 1973 BA in Journalism

After retiring from a 42 year career as a reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal in 2017, George Hesselberg (BA’73) is back with his new book “Dead Lines: Slices of Life from the Obit Beat.” The book is a collection of his favorite obituaries written during his career. We caught up with George to hear more about the book and his memories of the J-School.

When it comes to your new book, what are you most proud of?

I am proud that it is an unpredictable and good read.

What’s the best advice you have for a J-School student who wants to do what you do?

Learn another language, get out of town, exploit the pause, remember that if you can write, you take your best tools with you everywhere.

What is your favorite J-School memory?

When I had to tell a favorite professor he spelled my name wrong in a letter of recommendation. And, second memory, when Ragsdale told me to not give up. Third favorite: When I was dead broke – 1971 – and was going to quit and the department found me a $200 scholarship (Thanks, Harry Grant!) to stay in school. Fourth favorite memory: Arriving late for Yodelis’ law of mass communications final because wild dogs wouldn’t let me out of the front door of our apartment on Mifflin Street and she didn’t even blink.