LETTERS: People behind the paper


It is with sadness that I hear of the passing of Judith Dodington on April 29.

Judy, as I used to call her, was one of the originals – The ’77ers – working for the Peace Arch News editorial team when I was editor there from 1976-’79.

Roy Jelly, who started The News, is gone, as is Eileen Toumaala, his first editorial assistant and council reporter, and one or two others, such as Edna Smith, who also covered White Rock council.

Among the backroom staffers whom I remember so well was Ruth Kooyman, of whom it was said in her obit in late 2012: “She loved working at the PAN, where she was known for her attention to detail and keeping the reporters and editors in line when it came to spelling, grammar, and punctuation.” You better believe that for even as a sharp grammarian as I am – or think I am – I was often called aside by Ruth who questioned my sentence structure or use of a subjunctive clause.

History columnist Margaret Lang Hastings has also passed away.

However, many of the original late-’70s staff are still with us: Marilyn Gillan, office manager, retired and living in South Surrey; Chuck Clements, production manager, living in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver; Pat Kilt, education reporter, retired provincial government communications manager, living in Ashcroft; Ann Risdon (Marrison), Surrey council reporter, living in Maple Ridge and still putting out her gardening column for many community newspapers; Jenni Thom, school board reporter, living in Crescent Beach; Ross Fairweather, Surrey council and school board reporter, retired government worker; Mary Gillis, Surrey arts reporter, retired and living on Gabriola Island; Greg Heakes, sports reporter, Agence France Presse; and, Kathy Gillan, assistant distribution manager, now a corrections officer, and her brother, Kevin Gillan, distribution manager, now in the construction business and living in Surrey.

Jim Martin, who became production manager in the latter part of my sojourn as editor, was last known living in south Langley, but I have not seen him or many of the others for years.

In 2016, Peace Arch News will become a 40-year-old community newspaper. Let’s hope we can have an anniversary party with as many of the “originals” as we can contact.

Graham Evan MacDonell, Abbotsford



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