In the 24 years Howard Dubin held national leadership positions with the Society of Professional Journalists and Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, his wife, Ursula Paula Dubin, stood right beside him and shared his devotion to journalism and freedom of the press.
“A lot of marriages get broken up when the wife doesn’t understand all these meetings and conventions you have to give all over the country,” Howard said. “She was supportive. She never expressed regret [fighting] for journalism and free press.”
Mrs. Dubin, 72, an animal lover and longtime Evanston resident who was honored last year by SPJ for her dedication to the group, died of a brain tumor March 23 in her home.
Born in 1933, Ursula Lutz grew up in Wuerzburg, Germany, where her childhood was marked by memories of World War II. In 1945, she sought refuge in a bomb shelter with her family and emerged to see the city destroyed, Howard said. She attended the University of Wuerzburg and worked as a translator for the U.S. Army, switching easily between French, Italian, English and her native German.
In the mid-1950s, she was dating an American soldier when his friend, Howard, a recent graduate of Northwestern University, stopped in town to visit.
“I was traveling around the world for a year,” Howard said. “I traveled all through Asia, the Middle East, then I stopped in this town, Wuerzburg. He was dating her — that’s how I met her.”
Howard was struck by her vivacious personality, and he offered her a job at his company, Manufacturers’ News Inc. in Evanston. She moved to the U.S. in 1957 and intended to stay for a year. But she ended up falling in love both with the country and her boss.
The couple married Dec. 11, 1960. Their son, Tom, was born in 1962, and their daughter, Anne, in 1964.
Athletic and fit, Ursula started her day with a morning swim and then returned home to fix her husband’s breakfast. The couple were avid travelers and enjoyed spur-of-the-moment road trips and vacations in Europe.
Ursula also loved to dance.
She was most moved by the music of Benny Goodman and the Dorsey Brothers, Howard said.
“She loved Big Band jazz. She would dance up a storm,” he said. “I’m a terrible dancer, but she taught me enough so I could get by.”
Ursula’s vibrant personality made her a popular presence at the journalism society’s functions, said Paul Davis, a longtime friend and former SPJ president.
“If there was an event to be held, you always wanted to make sure Ursula was there, because she was so funny,” Davis said.
He also called Ursula for help filling out the New York Times crossword puzzle, which she managed to fill out perfectly every day, Davis said.
Ursula radiated kindness and strength, and her contribution to the journalism society was equal to her husband’s, said longtime friend Jean Otto, who was SPJ’s first female president.
“She was always there,” Otto said. “She’s the only one I know who is active in this organization whose spouse participated in such a way. They were a pair.”
This article originally appeared March 28 in the Chicago Tribune. It was reprinted with the permission of the Chicago Tribune; copyright Chicago Tribune; all rights reserved.