Robert F. Lemke, 65, a pioneering figure in the paper money field, and an early editor of Bank Note Reporter, died of congestive heart failure on Jan. 3 at a hospital near his home in Alexandria, Pa. Lemke also lived part of the year in Iola, Wis., where he had worked for nearly four decades at Krause Publications (later F + W Media).
Born in Fond du Lac, Wis., Lemke graduated from L.P. Goodrich High School and then attended the University of Wisconsin/Oshkosh School of Journalism, graduating in 1973. After a brief stint at the Wautoma Argus, he moved to Iola and joined Krause Publications, starting in the Coins and later Old Cars divisions before moving into Sports.
Lemke was named editor of BNR in 1979, the same year Krause Publications took control of the publication, having acquired it from Austin Sheheen, Jr.
Prior to that Lemke had worked on Numismatic News where, after joining the staff as an editorial assistant in June 1974, he later served as its news editor and covered the Bureau of Engraving and Printing beat. He also wrote “The Weekly Paper” column for that publication, which dealt with paper money and related issues. Today Bob is known to collectors for the KL (Krause-Lemke) cataloging system used in Krause Publications’ Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money and for continuing articles in this publication.
Lemke was also a pioneer in the sports collectible arena. He helped to orchestrate the launch of Baseball Cards Magazine in the spring of 1981, the first such periodical to appear on national newsstands.
Months later he lobbied for the company’s acquisition of Sports Collectors Digest, a move that played a pivotal role in the expansion of Krause Publications over the next two decades. Over that span he would serve as editor, publisher and ultimately vice president of the Sports Division, affixing his name to dozens of books as author and/or editor, perhaps most notably as a creative force behind the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, one of the most highly respected journals in the industry.
After retiring from the company in 2006, he worked for Whitman Publishing and stepped away from F + W Media more completely in 2011, turning over the reins of The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards.
He is survived by his wife Mary Ann (Henkel) Lemke, who he married in 1973; their daughter, Crystal Gearhart; and brothers and sister Jim, Tom, Dan and Carol. He was preceded in death by his parents, Orv and Lou Lemke, and his brother David.
Memorial contributions can be directed to: Hemophilia Outreach Center, 2060 Bellvue St., Green Bay, WI 54311.
This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter. >> Subscribe today.
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