Thursday, March 26, 2009
No match for Mildred
Mississippi recently lost another of its true community journalists.
Mildred Dearman, longtime executive editor of The Carthaginian, died February 11 at age 85.
As a “green” weekly newspaper person who moved to Mississippi back in 1986, I was fortunate to meet and get to know some seasoned veterans through our Mississippi Press Association events. One of those was Mildred.
Her knowledge was outstanding. Her advice was the best.
Her smile and laugh were contagious.
She stood out in a crowd. I recall people surrounding her at the conventions because they wanted to have a good time but they also wanted to learn.
Mildred defined community journalism.
As Waid Prather, editor and associate publisher of the weekly newspaper based in Carthage, wrote – “She covered the community, cared for the community and took part in the community.”
Mildred cared – about people and about the place she called home.
Her life was about community service, love and serving others. She was about boosting her city, her county and her state.
And because Mildred cared, she also did not back off from taking a stand on controversial issues. If it needed stirring up, Mildred stirred it up.
That’s why my good friend Waid has been and will continue to be the best person to carry Mildred’s torch. He’s a community first guy, too, who doesn’t back off from a good fight, if he needs to defend what’s right.
He called himself, in his recent tribute to the community newspaper legend – “the Mildred-in-waiting” and called it an honorable title.
I’d agree. That’s a high compliment, likely one of the highest when it comes to community journalism in our state.
He said he called her Mildred. Some called her Miss Mildred, even though she despised it. Others called her Mimi.
Then there was one public official who called her “that mean ol’ woman.”
But, Waid wrote, the public official quickly found out Mildred was nobody’s fool.
And “mean ol’ woman” can be an honorable title, too, Waid wrote.
Here’s some more about the life of Mildred Dearman – courtesy of her obituary.
Known throughout the state of Mississippi as an accomplished journalist, Dearman began her career in journalism, which spanned almost 50 years, as a reporter at The Carthaginian in 1960. Talented as a writer and inspired by a desire to serve her community with truth and justice, she sought to bring public matters to the attention of the public. She wrote untold numbers of feature stories to chronicle the lives of the citizens of Leake County and Carthage.
During her career, she was awarded more than 125 state and national writing, advertising and photography awards. She headed up the Mississippi Press Association’s “Better Newspaper Contest” for a decade and always invigorated the delivery of the awards with her flare for the dramatic and humorous. She was selected as the Mississippi Press Women’s “Woman of Achievement” in 1974, the University of Southern Mississippi’s Medalist in Journalism in 1973 and the Leake County Woman of the Year honor in 1982.
Mildred left a legacy that all community newspaper journalists, like yours truly, are challenged to follow. None of us can match Mildred. But we can all strive to live up to her standards.
I will always remember her tough skin but most of all her kind and caring heart.
“And so the patriot of Carthage is gone,” said Carthage Mayor Jimmy Wallace.
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