Former executive editor Svihlik dies at 71

Former Tribune Chronicle Executive Editor Susan Svihlik died Sunday in Chicago after a five-year battle with cancer. She was 71.

“When they told her, they said she only had two years, but mom being mom, she made it to five,” her daughter, Sarah Svihlik, said.

Svihlik was hired as managing editor of the Tribune Chronicle in 1991 and named executive editor the following year. With Svihlik as editor, the newspaper won numerous Ohio Associated Press Awards and other honors, including the 1993 E.W. Scripps Award for Service to the First Amendment and the 1997 Associated Press Society of Ohio’s First Amendment Award for outstanding accomplishment in pursuing freedom of information on behalf of the public.

“Susan was a strong leader of the Tribune Chronicle’s newsroom for many years,” said Tribune Chronicle Publisher Charles Jarvis. “We owe her a debt of gratitude for hiring and nurturing several of our current newsroom staff, including our Editor Brenda Linert. She also made many friends in the community during her stay here. Her family should be very proud of her journalistic career.”

Linert recalled Svihlik as a mentor when she was hired as an entry-level reporter.

“Susan drove us to get the whole story, and she was always cognizant of the important role the newspaper plays in our community,” Linert said. “That was a good lesson that I still try to apply in my job today.”

During the time she lived in Warren, Svihlik was active in the community. She sang in the choir at Christ Episcopal Church in Warren and appeared in community theater productions.

“She loved that choir, and the friends she made there,” her daughter said.

Larry Ringler, who worked at the Tribune Chronicle from 1972 until 2012 and served as business editor for Svihlik, said, “I always thought of her as our ‘editor mother.’ She was as determined as any hard-nosed editor to get to the truth of a story, yet she eagerly gave her time, encouragement and wisdom to everyone in her newsroom ‘family.’ She was an inspiration, both as an editor and a friend to all who met her.”

Alyssa Lenhoff-Briggs, who worked with Svihlik as an investigative reporter and editor at the Tribune Chronicle, said, “She really cared about doing what she viewed to be public service investigative journalism.”

Svihlik was willing to go to extreme lengths in search of the truth. Lenhoff-Briggs remembered receiving a tip about where a missing man was buried. Svihlik and then-publisher Steve Roszczyk approved renting a bulldozer to dig up the property in search of the body. They didn’t find a body, but the newspaper dug up many award-winning stories during her tenure.

Sarah Svihlik remembered her mom putting her to work and scanning cell phone records for one of those investigative pieces.

“She just worked all the time,” her daughter said. “She enjoyed that the area gave her plenty to write on.”

She also leaves behind two sons, Charles and Thomas. Details still are being finalized, but a funeral will take place this week in Svihlik’s hometown of Richmond, Ind., and the family is planning a memorial service this summer.

agray@tribtoday.com

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