Howard Etling devoted more than 50 years to publishing local news where he loved living — in south St. Louis.

Mr. Etling was born and reared near South Kingshighway and Milentz Avenue, his family said, and until the last two years of his life, he lived within a mile or two of that location. He married the daughter of a south St. Louis printing company owner and started his career working for her family’s South St. Louis Neighborhood News, leading to his eventual role as a publisher for the Suburban Journals.

Don Etling, one of his sons, said his father was most proud of an editorial campaign in the late 1950s and early 1960s that encouraged the replacement of the old, crowded St. Louis Chronic Hospital.

“That was kind of who Dad was,” Don Etling said. “He was always looking to do things for others.”

Howard F. Etling died Friday (Nov. 30, 2012) at Meramec Bluffs nursing home in St. Louis County. He was 98.

Mr. Etling graduated from Cleveland High School and, at age 16, enrolled in the University of Missouri School of Journalism. While in college, he earned a varsity letter in tennis.

Don Etling said his father’s love of sports never dimmed, as he played tennis well into his 80s and, for more than 50 years, never missed a home Mizzou football game.

After receiving his journalism degree, Mr. Etling became managing editor and sold advertising for the South St. Louis Neighborhood News. Mary Nordmann, the daughter of the paper’s owner, caught his eye. They were married for 56 years until her death in 1997 and had eight children.

Mr. Etling and his wife became part-owners of Nordmann Printing Co., and, in the 1970s, when the Suburban Journals bought the South St. Louis Neighborhood News, he became a general manager for owner Frank C. Bick. He was named a senior publisher for the Suburban Newspapers of Greater St. Louis after its sale to Ingersoll Publications in 1984 and, after retiring in 1989, he was named publisher emeritus of South County Publications.

Don Etling said his father was a devout Catholic who attended Mass almost every day and made 60 consecutive pre-Easter retreats at the White House Retreat Center, where he was on the board of directors. He bowled in the Monday night league at St. Mary Magdalen for more than 50 years.

Mr. Etling also served on the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners in the early 1970s, and he was an avid supporter of the Backstoppers, Variety Club and Old Newsboys Day. He served on the boards of Southside Day Nursery, Incarnate Word Hospital and many other civic organizations.

He also was on the board of directors of the former South Side National Bank beginning in the 1960s and retired as its chairman when the bank was sold in 2001.

Visitation will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday at Kutis Affton Chapel, 10151 Gravois Road. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

In addition to Don Etling, of Des Peres, survivors include three other sons, James Etling of Oakville, Mark Etling of St. Louis and William Etling of Oakville; and three daughters, Mary Fogler of Cincinnati, Susan M. Rolfe of Waterloo and Jane M. Kraus of Wildwood.