Don’t say goodbye; say ‘see ya later’

My column from the June 20, 2012, Mille Lacs Messenger.

If you’ve enjoyed the Messenger during the last 30-some years, thank Kathy Saumer Jackson.

Jackson, who retired a couple weeks ago, was the second-longest-serving employee of the business, next to Paulette Paulsen (who also deserves your thanks — but that’s a different story).

Kathy came to the Mess in 1977, two years after Dick Norlander bought the paper from Fred DeCoursey. Back then she was a typesetter — a job description that doesn’t really exist anymore, since most copy comes in already typed.

In the early days, Kathy typed on an IBM Selectric. The copy was cut into columns and pasted up on flats, then sent to the printer where it was photographed and transferred to metal plates used in the offset printing process.

After she’d been here a few years, Kathy was required to master the Apple 2 computer, which she did with few complaints or meltdowns, as well as software programs like PageMaker and Quark (versions 1 through 9, which we still use today).

Kathy was the one constant in the edit department, which refers to those of us who deal with the news side of the paper, rather than the advertising side.

She worked with editors Dick Norlander, Jay Andersen, Jim Baden, Joel Patenaude, Jon Tatting, Mike Kallok, Kevin Anderson and yours truly, as well as reporters and assistant editors named Krahn, Simons, Peterson, Olson, Gustafson, Coppernoll, Ziwicki, Bednar, Becker, Clark, Gibas and Passons.

Countless interns have learned more from Kathy than from said reporters and editors.

During the years 2001 to 2007, Kathy was the edit coordinator (and often de facto editor) of the paper, as Patenaude, Tatting and Kallok went through the revolving door at the Messenger.

Editors piled things on Kathy’s desk, and Kathy calmly and competently laid them on the page, cleaned them up and sent them out the door or over the Internet to the printer.

Simply put: If it weren’t for Kathy, this place would’ve fallen apart a long time ago.

We’re going to miss her, but it’s time for Kathy to concentrate on her gardens, her mom (Ollie), her husband (Tom) and her kids and grandkids.

We love you, Kathy, and don’t be a stranger.

See you in Sardegna?

My wife and kids and I are also saying goodbye next week to Eleonora Mannu, a young woman who joined our family in August of 2011.

Ele is an exchange student from the Italian island of Sardegna in the Mediterranean Sea.

Diane and I moved into our daughter’s room to give Cedar a sister for a year, and the experience has been enlightening and entertaining for us all, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

Ele participated in the swim team and color guard, and she went through graduation ceremonies in May. She went to concerts, parties, Valleyfair and the Mall of America (several times).

We drove to Grand Marais in the fall and to Iowa for Christmas, and the girls flew to New York with Diane and my sister Becky, to Seattle on their own at the invitation of some friends, and to Chicago, again with Becky as chaperone.

Sunday night we had a graduation party for Ele, where she said a tearful goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa Bond and Aunt Becky.

Next Tuesday we’ll take her to the airport and shed a few tears ourselves. I’m sure Cedar will start saving for a trip to Sardegna — and maybe Diane and I will tag along.

Brett Larson is the editor of the Messenger.

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