OPINION COLUMNS

Soul of the Messenger retires

By Phil Major | Published Sunday, October 3, 2010

In this day when some folks change jobs about as often as they change underwear, the Wise County Messenger has bucked the trend. Seven employees have more than 20 or 30 years, and a handful more are 10-year veterans.

But one of our longest serving decided to answer the call of retirement recently, and did so quietly, as was her wish (and counter to the wishes of many others, who think she deserved a grand old bash).

When Denny Deady walked out the door for the last time, it was almost as if the very life left this place. If Roy and Jeannine Eaton were the heart of this organization for 36 years, Denny was its soul for nearly as long.

If you ever get to thinking journalism is not a noble profession, all you have to do is look to Denny’s example to see it is very much a higher calling.

Of course, Denny would have been successful at whatever she attempted, and would have improved its profile.

Her character, perseverance, personality and charm would have led her to achieve in whatever field she landed.

It was my good fortune to share a newsroom with her, then had the added luck of having her as the rock of my newsroom when the Eatons gave me my first editor’s job.

The primary downside to coming back here was knowing that we would have her on the staff only a short while.

That’s not to say that her retirement is not well deserved. It is, by any measure.

We know that we can never replace her, so we will not try. Oh, we will fill the position, but her shoes cannot be filled. And that’s no knock on anyone who tries.

She brought a rare level of charm and class to work with her every day. I don’t know that she ever conducted herself with anything less than dignity and grace.

When the folks from Decatur named a Lake Bridgeport and former Paradise resident as their citizen of the year, that told you just how far her influence had spread.

She has epitomized the role of a caring citizen. Her legacy of helping to make this a better place would take pages to enumerate, and we still would likely leave out a few things.

And something tells me that she and Brian will continue to fill much of their time helping others (when not chasing grandkids). They learned long ago that it is in giving that we receive, and they have been blessed many times over.

To say that we’re going to miss her calm, assured presence and wealth of knowledge would be a huge understatement. Frankly, we don’t know what we’re going to do without her. We just know that we will move onward as best we can. And it just won’t be the same around here.

And perhaps some of us will have the chance to lose a little weight. Although now that she has even more time to bake, we might just extend the Update delivery route to the lake.

To honor Denny’s retirement, we are establishing a journalism scholarship. I could think of no better tribute than to help encourage a young person to seek a career in the field. If it becomes a fraction as rewarding and notable as Denny’s has been, it will have been well worth it.

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