By Michael R. Moser
When something becomes the norm and is a constant in our lives, we tend to over look the dedication, sacrifice and hard work that it takes on someone’s part to make things in our life "normal."
Just as our readers have come to rely on Dorothy Brush's "Random Thoughts" and "Looking Back" columns each Wednesday and Friday, we at the Chronicle have grown into a complacency of sorts, knowing her writings will always arrive on time each and every week.
"I have been told many times throughout the years that one of the best features in our newspaper is Dorothy Brush's 'Looking Back' column," said Publisher Pauline Sherrer. "I, too, always turn to this page first to learn more about Cumberland County. I have seen Dorothy working for hours through our old newspapers, lifting many heavy bound volumes to gather the information for her column. Dorothy is a beautiful lady and so delightful to work with. I just cannot remember a time when we have asked her to help with one of our projects where she declined or had something more important to do."
It is with that thought we take time out to publicly recognize Dorothy's dedication to her craft and to our readers, and to simply say thanks.
What some folks may not know is that for over a quarter century Dorothy has continued to maintain her weekly schedule and has never missed a deadline even while dealing with terminal cancer. In true Dorothy style, she refused any treatment and instead looked the cancer demon in the eye and said, "Get behind me, I have a column to write."
Her son, David, accompanied Dorothy to the oncologist's office when she was diagnosed with lung cancer, and the doctor's prognosis was disheartening for the family. "But, she wouldn't accept the doctor’s short-term death sentence which has permitted her to continue to explore and practice her passion ― writing," David said this week. He added, "(She) continues to defy current medical knowledge." That was nine years ago. And she is still writing.
If that doesn't inspire your inspirational gauge, then you might want to have it checked.
In 2004, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists named Dorothy "Columnist of the Year," the only Chronicle staffer to ever be so recognized.
Not too long ago, Suzette Martinez Standring, NSNC past president, wrote about Dorothy.
"I picture her: a welcoming smile, a chipper spirit, slightly stooped wearing an outlandish red-white-and-blue flag dress. Offering a pat on the arm to anyone, Dorothy exudes the rare motherly encouragement of you-can-do-no-wrong," Sandring wrote.
In an exchange of notes, Sandring shared what Dorothy wrote to her in 2008: "My faithful band of friends and family who pray for me had been a great blessing. Just about a year ago a new X-ray showed the growth has changed some but in the wrong direction. However, I went through last year with no additional symptoms so those prayers have allowed me all these extra years and without pain ... what more could I ask? Bless you for thinking of me."
I started writing the "Looking Back" column not long after I arrived at the Chronicle in 1984. I loved the task, but found myself chasing rabbits across the pages of past Chronicles and was losing way too much time looking up items to feature. I felt it was too important to drop the column because of the large number of newcomers who were hungry to learn more about the history of their new home. The column was also fun for life-long residents who loved taking walks down memory lane. The question was how to keep the column fresh. And, along came Dorothy, who shares a love of history, and to be honest, she does a much better job in much less time.
Whether working on the annual Pride special edition, or writing a people story, Dorothy never turned down a request to help us out. She has always been our constant in the midst of the chaos that is the news business.
Dorothy, like myself, started our writing on a manual typewriter. I loathed the idea of having to learn "computerese" at my age. Dorothy went through some of the same angst but finally resolved, "I am going to let Earl take care of the technical part. I am just going to write."
Earl, her husband, one-man support team, encourager and number one fan, has always been there to figure things out and to support her writing endeavors.
Now, it is way past time for us to pause and say, "Thank-you Dorothy, from the bottom of our hearts here at the Chronicle, and on behalf of our loyal readers who have enjoyed you work over the years."
We look forward to your next "Random Thoughts" and "Looking Back" columns.