Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 19, 2005
Vic Misutka – a man of dignity
Former WCR editor remembered for his diligence, dignity
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Victor Misutka will be remembered as a hard-working editor and a loving husband, father and grandfather.
Misutka, who served as editor of the Western Catholic Reporter from 1972 to 1979, died Sept. 6 after a struggle with pneumonia and heart complications. He was 78. He is survived by his wife Joan, seven children, 13 grandchildren, one sister, two brothers and several nieces and nephews.
“I was impressed by the man’s diligence in doing a good job,” said retired Archbishop Joseph MacNeil. “He was thoroughly committed to the Catholic press. He was a man of great humility and great dignity and had a great commitment to the project of the WCR.”
Born in Czechoslovakia and raised near Bentley, Alta., Misutka worked on newspapers in Castlegar, Trail, Penticton and Edmonton before joining the WCR.
WCR editor in 1972
He was a night editor with The Edmonton Journal when Archbishop Anthony Jordan appointed him editor of the WCR in 1972. He succeeded WCR founder Douglas Roche who resigned as editor following his election as a member of Parliament.
Misutka left the WCR in 1979 after seven years of hard work and late nights in front of the typewriter. In an Aug. 27, 1979 article he said he decided to leave “because of a feeling that I wasn’t doing things as well as should be done, coupled with a need for more time at home with my family.”
Misutka went back to The Journal after he left the WCR and worked as an editor there until his retirement in 1990 at age 63. After his retirement, he continued to volunteer with Meals On Wheels and other charities and remained active at St. Matthew’s Parish until 2003. Then, he and Joan began attending St. Edmund’s Parish, which is closer to their north Edmonton apartment.
“I found it very easy to work with him,” recalled MacNeil, who became archbishop of Edmonton in 1973. “The WCR was like a special mission in life for him and he used it to spread the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. I think in his own humble, quiet ways Vic Misutka thought he was really following the will of God through the Second Vatican Council and doing the best he could to proclaim it and propagate its teaching.”
As general manager of the WCR, Elmar Abele worked with Misutka on a daily basis.
“I liked him very much,” Abele said. “He was a good editor but he was very conservative in a lot of his views. He made people think. He was very much in touch with the teaching of the pope.”
Misutka would work all day overseeing the WCR staff, writing editorials and covering events and then he would come back to the office in the evenings, Abele recalled.
A solitary worker
Abele once asked Misutka why he was working so late and he said it was easier for him to collect his thoughts when he was alone. “He read a lot and he wanted to be left alone and one of the reasons he came in at night was because he wanted to get away from the phone calls,” Abele said. “He did a lot of work that way.”
Under Misutka the WCR won several awards from the American Catholic Press Association, including an overall excellence award and a best editorial award.
“He did a good job,” commented Abele. “He was well liked by all the staff and got along pretty very well with Archbishop Jordan.”
Joan Misutka, Victor’s wife for 49 years, said her husband left the WCR because he wanted to spend more with his seven children.
Loving, dedicated husband
“I’ll remember him as a loving, dedicated husband and father and a hard worker,” she said. “He had a keen sense of humour. He was funny but he was serious. He loved books and music and his computer, of course. He had a good singing voice. He played the accordion and after a beer or two he would sing even louder.”
Misutka was a dedicated and conscientious worker, Joan said. “When he worked he gave 110 per cent. No matter where he was working or at home he always gave his best.”
Misutka had a massive stroke Feb. 22 and three weeks ago he developed pneumonia. “They drained his lungs and the doctors thought it wouldn’t happen again for months but I guess God had better plans and took him home,” Joan said.
Kay Feehan, a member of the WCR board when Misutka was editor, said she will remember Misutka as “a very fine man and a fine editor.”
“He took over at a time when we needed him badly and he was very committed to the paper and very faithful in trying to inform people about the Second Vatican Council,” she said.
“He was a dependable person; he had good insight into some of the different activities that were going on within the Church and was very easy to work with; everybody who worked with him really held him in high esteem.”
Feehan, a social worker and member of the Quality of Life Commission, said Misutka was sort of “a cautious person” in terms of his editorials.
He had to be that way because Catholics at the time were very divided between those who wholeheartedly embraced the changes of Vatican II and those who found the changes hard to swallow, she recalled.
“His editorials were always in tune with the Second Vatican Council. He kept up that same approach that had already been established.”
Father Leo Cordeau celebrated a Mass of Christian Burial for Misutka at St. Edmund’s Church on Sept. 10.