Roxanne, fondly remembered

Dateline: Thu 06 Dec 2012

Thanks to former Indianapolis Star copy editor Pete Scott for writing a wonderful memoir in NUVO (Dec. 5-12) about our late colleague Roxanne Morgan, copy desk chief extraordinaire. She died, unexpectedly, Oct. 14 at age 53. Before her time, at least for those of us here on this earth.

Pete shares some of the words and deep sentiment he delivered at her eulogy at the Star building a few weeks ago; he also amplifies on the significance, joy and very hard work that was her life.

Many years ago, a young writer for Indianapolis Woman did a story on working mothers. I was one of three people she interviewed. This young writer later told me that she felt sorry for me, because I worked nights (part-time, copy desk) and had all the attendant duties of motherhood and wife during the day. It was a period of chronic fatigue.

So it goes that some of us feel sorrow for Roxanne, in the sense that she carried a huge workload at the newspaper, putting the paper to bed every night, carrying within her small frame the tension of deadline, although she wore that responsibility lightly, in the visible sense. True, she didn't come home to kids, but she worked a very full week, and she had a life with her husband Steve and her beloved dogs.

She had to deal with the Gannett thing: as Pete points out, that was the corporation's need to continually "reorganize" and fire people, or force them to leave. This left her with a heavy burden, emotionally and professionally: she ultimately was funneling copy not only for the news side, but features and business. No wonder, we all think, her health suffered....because in truth, her death at age 53 is untimely, even by newspaper industry standards. And she hated to see friends let go; she knew how tough it was for them to find work.

Still, she felt about newspapers like I did when I was there in that cloud: we loved our jobs. I wouldn't have traded those nights on the desk for any other work.

And Roxanne was not only sentimental, she was the consummate newspaper loyalist. As Pete says, "Working in another industry wasn't really an option. Rox wasn't a tech person....she worked for the newspaper, that thing people read at the table with their coffee and breakfast....she now was old school, and besides, she still had a few night desk people to protect." (She refused to participate in Gannett's game of get the employee, refused to attend meetings where lists were drawn up with the intent of firing or PIPing).

As sad as many of us still are -- and guilty? do I detect a tinge of guilt for our sense that many of us left, but Rox stayed on and carried the load and was without peer? -- I still believe we can rejoice in a life well-lived. It's not how long you have, but the legacy you create. Hers was enormous. She remains loved and respected, and thanks to Pete, her life is vivid and beautiful and something well worth sharing.




George Stuteville [unverified] said:

Thanks, Ruthie for posting this great story about great person.

2012-12-06 10:21:23

Louise [unverified] said:

I found your blog website on google and check several of your early posts. Continue to keep up the really very good operate. I just extra up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Looking for forward to reading much more from you later on!?

2012-12-08 00:24:16

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

I just read the NUVO article on Roxanne. Our time at The Star overlapped, but I have no memory of her.

The bittersweet conclusion gleaned from the narrative obituary is this: what she did for the newspaper (heroic and professional as it was) doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.

Her legacy is of her caring spirit, which will live on in the hearts of the people she worked with, counseled and consoled.

All that she gave up (she seems to have had no life outside the copy desk) meant nothing to Gannett.

2012-12-09 15:14:04

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