Yesterday was Becky Clark's last day at the helm of the Town Crier. Today is her retirement party.
I started here four years ago and Becky's first admonition to me was to keep my politics and opinions private - that a newspaper reporter's role was to be a neutral "fly on the wall", reporting the story accurately, but not be "in" the story with personal biases or judgments.
We bumped heads a lot that first year - our personalities are similar. She hated my dependent clauses. My writing style was too ornate. We could both have flashes of temper. But through that and succeeding years, she grew a reporter who managed to win some awards. Both the best and worst comments were one's from Becky. "How could you do that? You need to get your facts straight in the story. Now I'll have to run a 'Matter of Fact' correction." Or, far better, "I loved that story!"
I called her "Boss," paying respect to her ability and the facts that she held fast to her convictions, was fiercely loyal to her staff, and absolutely deserved the respect. She did not tolerate bullies of any stripe and held no truck with hypocrisy. She held the First Amendment and the Brown (open government) Act as standards that brooked no compromise.
And her laugh. I could be in a funk in the back of our offices, in the writers' cave, not getting through a story, stuck on a deadline day, and then I'd hear her laugh. And my day would be better. There was a lot of laughing at the Town Crier. I liked the laughter.
For me, it will be hard to come in and not see her sitting in the front office. We built a solid professional relationship. She had patience and helped me grow. I will miss her, and like many things in my life, I did not realize how much until she was almost out the door.