Al Neuharth Obituary: An Incontinent Man & Newspaper Icon

We were saddened this weekend to learn that USA Today founder, Al Neuharth had passed away at the tender age of 89 years young. Al founded USA Today in 1982 and oversaw its rapid growth to a circulation of about 1.8m.

What’s a little less well known is that Al Neuharth wrote editorials for USA Today well into his 80s, including one where he admitted an embarrassing truth, he was incontinent. He shared his story and threw off the embarrassment and shame, and we wanted to share that article here with you today.

It might not be what he’s most remember for, but we certainly wont forget it anytime soon!

Al Neuharth


4-year-old truth-teller: ‘Diapers are dad’s!’

Most little kids inherently are honest. In telling the total truth, they sometimes give away embarrassing adult secrets. But they’re not being tattletales, just truth-tellers.

Our 4½-year-old Andre may have had the topper this week. It was his turn, among our six young ones, to go shopping at the supermarket with me. He helped unload the cart at checkout. As he put one big package on the counter, he announced loudly to the clerk and all nearby:

“Those diapers are my dad’s! I don’t wear diapers anymore.”

Silence. Then snickers all around. A gracious clerk saved my day. Smiling at Andre and me, she said: “That’s OK. Lots of grownups buy diapers nowadays.”

Indeed they do. Curious about her reassurance, I did some research. Adult diapers are one of the fastest-growing sales items in supermarkets and drugstores. Figures:

  • An estimated 1.69 billion adult diapers will be sold in the USA this year.
  • Ten years ago, it was just 700 million. Twenty years ago, 392 million.

It’s not that so many more of us are experiencing “incontinence” problems. Just that we’re doing something about it.

“Incontinence” generally means leaking urine. About 25 million adults have transient or chronic incontinence. That includes about 50% of us over age 70.

Adult disposable diapers should not be confused with feminine-hygiene products, such as menstruation pads. Diapers generally are not worn at home, although some wear them overnight. They mostly are for those who experience leakage during lengthy meetings, excursions or on long trips.

When I travel, I’ve usually hidden a clean diaper or two at the bottom of my briefcase. Now that Andre has “outed” me, I can stop playing hideaway and keep one handy in my pocket.

Al Neuharth

To view his full obituary, click here.


Posted in