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Remembering G. Fred Wickman: Journalist, Professor and Mentor

Former students look back on G. Fred Wickman’s legacy.
Courtesy+of+Rosanne+Wickman%0A%0A
Courtesy of Rosanne Wickman

On April 27, 2024, former Kansas City Star columnist, UMKC professor and U-News (now called Roo News) advisor G. Fred Wickman passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.

The May 5, 2024 edition of The Star featured a lovely article about him that covers his illustrious career, but many of his former students felt he deserved to be honored here, as well.

If you are a student today, you probably didn’t know Wickman. He retired from UMKC in 2011. For those of us who were lucky enough to work with him, learn from him and be mentored by him, this loss has been immense.

Wickman was a fantastic teacher and advisor. He made students feel smart, accepted and listened to.

I met Wickman when I was a student and newspaper editor at UMKC in 2009, and for 15 years he was my mentor and friend.

Several former U-News editors came together at his memorial on May 9 to pay respects and express gratitude for his mentorship throughout the years.

Even though he had a unique relationship with each of us, as we swapped stories about him it was clear we all got to know the same amazing man.

He cared about us and provided guidance as we transitioned from students to professionals, became partners and parents, and built our own lives.

As we moved from our chaotic twenties to our more-stable thirties and beyond, he stayed a supportive presence in our lives. Life is so inconsistent during those years; but Wickman was not.

He reached out when he didn’t hear from us, he followed up when he heard we were up to something, he took our calls and called us back, and he made time for lunches, dinners and FaceTimes. We were often joined by his wife, Rosanne.

They listened and offered advice as we lamented lost job opportunities and contemplated graduate school. As we had kids, they shared stories of raising their son, Ben, whom they doted on, and they reveled in being grandparents.

Wickman was a whole person, and he cared about our whole selves.

As you traverse the rocky terrain that is college, finding a mentor who listens to you, guides you and tells you when you’re wrong might be one of the most important things you do.

Hopefully before you’re done here, you can find your Wickman.

 

Former U-News Editors Remember Wickman

“In our UMKC alumni journos circle, G. Fred Wickman was affectionately known as ‘Wickman.’ I count myself as fortunate to be one of the students Wickman took under his wing, but having that mentorship transform into an enduring friendship spanning 18 years was truly extraordinary and impactful on my life. Wickman actively nurtured both my professional growth and personal well-being. He was the first person to encourage me to lean into my curiosity to ask questions and pursue truth—qualities I had long suppressed to not ruffle feathers. I will dearly miss Wickman’s advice, stories, and presence.”

-Britt Lane, Former U-News News Editor, Class of 2007

 

“I met Prof. Wickman when he first became adviser for the U-News. He invested his time in weekly newspaper critiques and helped us all hone our skills. I enjoyed Wickman’s sense of humor; he nicknamed the interim chancellor “Limecooler” and told an overly persistent gadfly he would “ruminate” and then “cogitate” before getting back to him. On a more serious note, he helped us navigate a free press challenge from student government.

After I graduated, he offered encouragement as I navigated new jobs. I loved talking local news and politics with Wickman, with his background at The Star and connections through the Citizens Police Academy and writing a neighborhood crime blotter. He always remembered the important details.”

-Emily Iorg-Walters, Former U-News Editor-in-Chief, Class of 2007

 

“Wickman was more than just a mentor for me — he became a decades-long friend. His unwavering support, insightful advice and encouragement of independent thinking were invaluable as I developed my journalism career and personal growth. I’ll forever treasure our insightful lunch conversations over the years, which were filled with laughter, life stories and his unmatched knowledge of local politics. He was a bright light in my life, and I will miss him dearly.”

-Jennifer Bhargava, former U-News Culture Editor, Class of 2006

 

“A professional mentor like Fred Wickman is hard to come by. During my time at UMKC, he was among the most memorable professors that I had the privilege of learning from. I couldn’t have asked for a more qualified mentor during my formative years. Fred possessed knowledge so vast that it could compete with Google.”

-Mark Linville, Former U-News Editor, Class of 2013

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