“I have a theory that the truth is never told during the nine-to-five hours.”
— Hunter S. Thompson
I’ll have to admit, I didn’t really take to staff writer Mary Hinds all that much when I started work at The Democrat about nine months ago.
She was fast-witted, opinionated and quick to tell anyone when she didn’t like something. Come to think of it, those might be the same traits that made me come to like and admire her.
Mary is no longer with us at The Democrat. I may be breaking some federal HIPPA law by writing this, but she suffered a stroke about a month ago that affected her vision significantly. Last week, I got the call she had decided to turn in her resignation and focus on her rehabilitation.
Reluctantly, I accepted. There wasn’t much I could lend by way of argument in this situation. Mary knows what’s best for her, and who am I to stand in the way of that?
But the Wilson County community, along with our industry in general, lost a good one that day. I’m here to profess.
I’ll never forget a conversation I had with my boss, publisher Joe Adams, concerning Mary after I’d been here just a couple of weeks. I told him, “I just don’t know what to think about that Mary Hinds. She’s a tough nut to crack.”
Of course, I didn’t realize at the time what a gem I had on my staff. Turns out, I had it all wrong. That nut didn’t need cracking. And that was Joe’s advice to me.
It took a little time to discover Mary had about three times the experience I had in community journalism and even held a position similar to mine for a while at a paper up north. It seems we were cut from the same cloth.
I also discovered what a tremendous asset Mary was to this newspaper. Most anytime anyone who felt they didn’t have a voice turned to Mary to be an advocate. That’s trust you don’t find in just anyone, and it’s apparent Mary has a trusting soul.
She also was willing to go to the ends of the earth to get the story, even if it meant reapproaching the subject again and again.
She was relentless when it came to seeking out a source, especially when she was passionate about the topic.
“That should ruffle some feathers,” she’d say from time to time.
Old habits die hard in Mary, but that’s also one of her admirable traits. Often, I would attempt to bring her up to date on what the youth in journalism are doing these days only to be scoffed at and told if that was the way I wanted it done, I’d have to just change it myself.
And she did. And I did.
I even found out we share the same love for good music, such as Simon and Garfunkel, though we don’t see eye to eye when it comes to her love for cats.
Sure, there were things Mary didn’t like to do during her time at The Democrat. We were all aware of that. But she always stopped short of complaining, and that’s something else I admire of her.
Although, I’m not sure I’d want to be in charge of her rehab right about now.
I know that it’s frustrating for Mary to not be here right now. A couple of times, I’ve even lied to her and told her not to worry and to concentrate on getting better, that we would be fine. I’d like to think it was for her own good.
Selfishly, this situation has happened for no one’s good, and quite frankly I miss Mary at The Democrat.
We certainly miss you and wish you a speedy recovery. And always know there is a spot on this staff whenever you’re able to return.
There’ll be no argument there.
Jared Felkins is The Democrat’s director of content. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @paperboyfelkins.