WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Gene W. Hintz, who covered news and sports for United Press International in Wisconsin for 24 years and taught college journalism, died following a fall at his home. He was 71.
Hintz died Thursday at Murphy Medical Center in Murphy, N.C., where he was taken following the fall at his home in Hayesville, N.C., where had lived since retiring in 1998.
Hintz graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and joined UPI in Milwaukee in 1960 after serving as sports editor of the Manitowoc Herald Times. Working in the Milwaukee and Madison bureaus, he became state editor before leaving UPI in 1984.
Margaret Bauman, who worked with Hintz in the late 1960s in UPI's Milwaukee bureau, called him "one of UPI's best."
"Gene was a wonderful journalist, always a real pro, with a good sense of humor and a ready smile during the rough and tumble days of civil rights demonstrations, the anti-war demonstrations, politics and the great Green Bay Packers, who were indeed in their glory years," Bauman said. "He was always there with good advice for the younger staffers, and when we listened, we learned a lot from him."
He taught journalism at the University of Wisconsin campuses at Madison, Whitewater and Oshkosh. When he retired, he was chairman of the Department of Journalism at UW Oshkosh.
Combining his love of sports reporting and his favorite football team, Hintz became friends with the late coach Vince Lombardi while covering the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s and 1970s.
Hintz's brother, Bob, said Gene was one of only two sportswriters mentioned in Lombardi's book, "Run to Daylight."
"Gene always had a special place for him (Lombardi)," Bob Hintz said, and added it was the Packer coach who broke the news to Gene that Hintz's father had died.
"Gene died a Packer fan -- right to the end," Bob Hintz said.
Early in his career Hintz covered the semi-pro football team the Manitowoc Chiefs, who played in the Two Rivers area of eastern Wisconsin. Last year, he was one of the final inductees into the Chiefs' Hall of Fame.
Hintz also was known as the keeper of the UPI family tree and compiled a directory of former employees -- known as the Downholders. He also frequently wrote on the Downhold listserve group e-mail about his journalism experiences.
"That literally was his life, he loved it," Bob Hintz said of his brother.
His love of journalism extended to his teaching career, as well.
"He taught journalism with a compassion and a degree of integrity that the average college professor cannot do," Bob Hintz said.
Vyto Kapocius, who also worked in UPI's Milwaukee and Madison bureaus in the 1950s and '60s, said Hintz was a top rate sportswriter who was offered a job in New York with UPI, but turned it down because he enjoyed covering the Packers.
"After leaving UPI and entering the teaching profession, he established Wisconsin's first exclusive university journalism course in sports writing," Kapocius said. "It proved so popular that enrollment at the UW-Oshkosh journalism department had to be limited."
Peggy Davidson, a professor of journalism at UW Oshkosh, worked with Hintz and said he was a "very beloved and dedicated teacher" who "made journalism come alive for his students."
Davidson said Hintz always had time for his students and made sure they, along with the faculty, were up-to-date on the latest in technology that would help their craft.
Hintz was born Nov. 29, 1932, in Cornell, Wis., the son of Fred and Mary Hintz, who preceded him in death. He is survived by his brother, Robert (Molly) Hintz of Marietta, Ga., niece Lori Figgins and nephew Mike Hintz, both of the Atlanta area.
A memorial service for Hintz will be held at a later date in Marietta, Ga.