Class of

2021

Humanities & Cultural

Francis “Bill” Fink

Francis Anthony Fink’s lasting legacy in Huntington County was overseeing the expansion of Our Sunday Visitor, including the construction of its current building at the northeast edge of Huntington. It had been planned for decades, but was completed in 1961, by which time the circulation of the publication had reached one million copies per week.

Born in 1907, Francis was known by many as Bill — his godfather Will insisted that he should have been named Bill, and the name stuck. He began working for Our Sunday Visitor after his graduation from the University of Notre Dame in 1930. His uncle, John Francis Noll, had founded OSV in Huntington when he was pastor at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. By 1930, Noll was Bishop of the Fort Wayne Diocese, and the weekly “Our Sunday Visitor” had gone from being the local diocesan newspaper to become a national publication, with circulation at more than 500,000.

Noll was trying to edit OSV’s periodicals while also serving as bishop, and he needed help. Fink joined with the title of managing editor, and worked closely with Bishop Noll in the original building located in downtown Huntington. Fink began to arrange publication of editions for other Catholic dioceses in an age of letterpress printing. He changed the first of Bishop Noll’s periodicals, “The Parish Monthly” into “The Family Digest,” and another periodical called “The Acolyte” into “The Priest.” More periodicals were to come later.

With the expansion of the company, it became clear that the OSV building at Park Drive and Warren Street was inadequate. Bishop Noll and Fink began planning a new building by 1940, but progress was stalled during World War II. After the war, planning resumed but then with plans to install printing presses that could print other periodicals in addition to those published by OSV.

Noll, who was elevated to Archbishop in 1953, suffered a stroke in 1954 and died on May 31, 1956. Fink was asked by the board of trustees to become the chief operating officer with the title executive vice president. The new Bishop of Fort Wayne, Leo Aloysius Pursley, remained the chief executive officer. Ground for the new building was broken in 1957 and when it was completed in 1961, “Our Sunday Visitor” was the most-read Catholic publication in the country.

Fink continued to guide the company as it expanded to publish and print newspapers, magazines, books, pamphlets, church collection envelopes, and other church-related materials.

He served on the board of directors of Catholic Digest since its founding in 1936, and was a member of the board of governors of the Catholic Church Extension Society beginning in 1962.

Nationally, Fink also became leader of the national Catholic Press Association. He was elected president of the association in 1950, and he served two terms. In 1971, only months before his death from a heart attack on December 4, he was awarded the association’s highest honor, the St. Francis de Sales Award, for “outstanding contributions to Catholic journalism.”

In Huntington, Fink was executive vice president and director of the First National Bank, chairperson of the Chamber of Commerce’s Industrial Development Committee, and an active member of the Rotary Club, the Knights of Columbus, and the Elks and Moose lodges. He worked with two other “Bills,” Bronstein and Schacht, to found the Lafontaine Country Club, with the three of them taking turns serving as president.

Fink and his wife, Helen, raised six children in Huntington, with four boys — John, William, James and Thomas — and two girls, Ann and Carol. John Fink, known as Jack, followed in his father’s footsteps at Our Sunday Visitor, starting as an associate editor and rising to president and chairman of Noll Printing, where he led the company until 1984.

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