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Fritz Plous, 72

A newspaperman never forgets.

Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki

Lincoln Square

What do you do? I’m a writer. I went to the Sun-Times in 1970 and worked there until ’78, when they merged the Sun-Times with the Daily News, and I was laid off.

What beat did you cover? I was a general assignment reporter, but I tried to grab every transportation story I could. Rail is my specialty. I was the first reporter on the scene of the 1977 El train derailment. The Sun-Times building was located where the Trump Tower is now. That night, I was in the city room on the fourth floor. The society writer, Kay Rutherford, was looking out the window, and she said, “Fritz, there’s a lot of red lights flashing down there.” I looked out at the corner of Lake and Wabash, and my God…the El fell off the tracks. So I raced down there and arrived as the first ambulances were taking the dead away. After I’d interview a cop or an ambulance driver, I’d pump quarters into a pay phone to talk to a rewrite man, just like in the old movies.

Do you still get the reporter’s urge to chase ambulances? Oh, yeah. If my wife and I see police cars speeding by, we still call the Sun-Times city desk. My wife worked in the features department at the paper. We were introduced by Roger Ebert, who got me my job there. When he was the editor at the Daily Illini in Champaign, I’d contribute folk-music reviews. One day, Roger said, “You really oughta meet this girl, April, who’s working for the features editor.” Our first big date was in 1974. I told her, “I’m taking my vacation on the Canadian Pacific Railway out to Vancouver.” She said, “Can I come?”


Susan S

Fritz, My name is Susan Sacks Schiffer. I read on line today that my Brother Ed Sacks passed away. No one told me. He was estranged from our Father and I was caring for our Father so Ed fell out of contact with me. I had no idea of his passing. A man, a  building developer contractor from Chicago called here at our home in San Diego today, the first call I ignored but the second call, I picked up. This man said he was a contractor and he inquired about Ed's building. He said the resident was thought to be deceased. I told him that my brother was not deceased and we got off the phone. Then, I went on line just to negate the notion and awful, Ed's obituary actually was on line. Two obits listed, April and Fritz Plous condolence noted in guest book. I am in shock. Ed was totally brilliant, determined, hardworking and humane. He was gifted and talented and he was dedicated to good causes.  I have lost my brother and to my dismay found out, on-line. Awful. I am in shock. Please, can you fill me in on the circumstances of his death? Sincerely, Susan Sacks Schiffer