As I scoured my email the other day, sorting out the spam from the emails that I actually needed to read, one in particular caught my eye.
The subject line made me nervous, so I hesitated opening it. I was worried for what this email contained.
Anytime I see or hear the word “changes”, it causes me to pause. After working in the business world for nearly 17 years, the word “change” meant many things, but usually, it led to people losing their jobs or being reassigned to another department or position, and that was not always a “step up” on the ol’ ladder of success.
The email was from Elena Meadows, the Managing Editor of this wonderful paper. The first thing that crossed my mind was that this column was going to come to an end or the paper didn’t want my submissions for the Kalamazoo Wings any longer, or gasp, both!
Much to me relief, that is not what the email contained. However, it was worse. Much worse!
Elena was leaving!!
As you all know, Elena is saying goodbye to the Commercial-News next week, and while I wish her well, I will certainly miss her talents at our hometown paper.
I know I have talked about this before, but back in 2006, I emailed Elena on a whim about writing for the paper. At the time, I was not living in Three Rivers, but my family has a long history in this town and my great-uncle Ted Tobler worked for the paper for many years. I had an idea for a column that I wanted to run by her.
Thankfully, she gave me a shot, and here I am 11 years later, still submitting columns. In addition, I was able to expand into covering the Kalamazoo Wings for the paper, with Elena’s blessing (and, of course, Scott Hassinger, too!). Beyond that I was able to write a few other stories, including an interview with incoming Western Michigan University President John Dunn.
Due to my writing for the Commercial-News, it helped lead me to writing for the Kalamazoo Gazette for a few years, as well as their other publications, the Hometown Gazette and Generations. Both of which I enjoyed tremendously, but sadly, with all the changes at the Gazette over the past several years, they ditched all of their freelance writers.
When I approached Elena about possibly submitting stories for the Commercial-News, we did not know each other. But over the course of the past several years, we have become friends.
Then again, who isn’t friends with Elena? She knows everyone. For the past 13 years she had her finger on the pulse of everything Three Rivers. Whenever I had a question about something going on in town, she always seemed to have the answer.
In addition to being “in the know”, Elena seemed to be everywhere. I am sure we can all remember a time we saw Elena at an event in town with her notebook and camera, doing what she does best, cover the story. She was our town’s very own Lois Lane. Oh, what the heck, she was our town’s Superwoman!
Elena was always a sounding board for me. I would shoot her an email with a column idea and she would offer her opinion or thoughts on future columns based on my questions and she only turned down one of my columns over the years.
Outside of the paper, Elena is a very caring person. It was not uncommon for her to send a note of thanks, ask how the family was doing, offer encouragement or just check in to see how things were going with me.
When my father passed away, Elena came to the visitation, which meant more than she knew. One year at a previous job, we were doing a canned food drive. I received an email from Elena asking to meet her as she had a donation. Boy, did she ever. A trunkful of canned goods. Elena even invited me to a Rotary luncheon because the K-Wings head coach was the guest speaker.
Elena has a tremendous heart. Her heart was printed on every page of this paper, as she was beyond dedicated to her job.
The big joy for me, however, was when she found a big piece of her heart in Jimmy. I was proud to be able to take part in their beautiful wedding and celebration afterward.
Elena, your talents will be missed, but I know I speak for many, when I say, THANK YOU. Thank you for all of your hard work over the years. I don’t think many understand the hours of time you put in each week and all that challenges that come with running a daily newspaper, especially when dealing with people like me! .
You, my friend, made it look easy. Congratulations on your next journey.
Submitted by Mark McGlothlen