Madison County political leaders and community members paused last month to remember Pat Dillon, who died at 86.
I remembered her from earlier days when she got her start in the advertising department at Anderson Newspapers while I was a fledgling sportswriter.
She always helped organize the newspapers’ annual picnic at Beulah Park in Alexandria. And it was a frequent treat for employees’ children when her family would saddle up horses and give them rides around the grounds.
Pat went on from there, of course, into the public realm, serving as justice of the peace, member of the Madison County Council and county auditor. The last time I saw her was in the halls of the Madison County Government Center during my reporting days not long before my retirement – and hers.
The obituary column eventually claims all of us. For Pat Dillon, a lifetime of achievement and leadership preceded that eventuality.
It was the second passing in a month of one of my former newspaper associates. I had worked with Steve Dick for a couple of years before my retirement from full-time reporting and editing. He had continued on for about eight more years before his unexpected death. Dick was a soft-spoken but enthusiastic individual with outstanding leadership qualities in the newspaper game.
His death also brought to memory a stretch in my early years when several longtime newspaper employees died just short of retirement. That included Jane Heritage, Orville “Red” Haven, Paul Lane and Bill Wade within the space of two or three years. The newspaper game, with its emphasis on daily deadlines, is not for the faint of heart.
The same held true of those in leadership at Anderson Newspapers Inc., including Harriet Toner, Felix Buck, E.A. Bailey (no relation), Jane Toner Scott, John E. Scott, Robert Jackson and Thamar “Doc” Vermillion, who “died with their boots on” as active newspaper executives at the time of their passing.
The loss of these executives, as well as changes in the newspaper industry, eventually led to the sale of Anderson Newspapers Inc. to Ingersoll Newspapers in 1986, if memory serves correctly, and the consolidation of The Anderson Herald and Anderson Daily Bulletin into The Herald Bulletin.
Ingersoll in turn sold The Herald Bulletin to Thomson Newspapers, which later divested it and other U.S. newspapers to the present owner, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.
Thus a multitude of changes have occurred since “Red” Haven hired me as a sportswriter in 1962. It has been an interesting journey working with people such as Pat Dillon, Joe Deeley, Charlie Laughlin, Herb Kennedy, Pat McKeand, John Mahan and the others I mentioned who have preceded me to the next world.
But news continues to be made. And there will be a succession of others to chronicle it and facilitate its presentation to consumers of news and its accompanying advertising.
Jim Bailey’s reflections on Anderson’s past appear on Sunday. His regular column appears on Thursday. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.