Patricia Montemurri

She shined a spotlight for the Free Press

As a Detroit-area journalist, including nearly 37 years at the Detroit Free Press, Patricia Montemurri has been a storyteller, researcher, investigator and instigator. She followed popes and presidents, mayors and Miss America contestants, and distinguished herself with coverage of the Catholic Church from local pews to the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square.

She was 16 when she enrolled at the University of Michigan, where her work at the Michigan Daily landed her a summer internship at the Detroit Free Press. After a stint at the Associated Press in Detroit, she went to the Free Press full time and she remained its youngest staff reporter for three years.

Her range has been enormous. She has covered Detroit mayoral elections and presidential politics, campaign finance, women’s issues, workplace issues, and health stories that put her in the operating room for heart transplants. As a political reporter, she first revealed the slush fund that led to former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s racketeering conviction and federal prison sentence.

She explored many facets of the Catholic Church’s impact on the Detroit area, including the closings of beloved churches and schools, the unheralded service of Catholic nuns, to the painful reverberations of the long-hidden priest sex abuse scandal. Her reporting led to priests being removed from the pulpit. She has authored five books on local Catholic institutions.

As a Detroit Newspaper Guild activist, she worked to advance the salaries and work options of women at the Free Press through her service as a union steward, vice-chair and bargaining committee negotiator.

As a journalist in her hometown, her connections with people, places and institutions have long generated insights and stories. All those connections sustained her passions and the books and freelance work she pursues to this day.