Columns about Nancy Green
What follows is a eulogy delivered during funeral services for Nancy Green by Layne Bruce, president of the Mississippi Press Association.
An exceptional woman
Forgive me if I start by making the most obvious of statements — but Nancy Green was an exceptional woman.
I don’t think I’m even prepared for life without her.
The fact there are six former and current editors of The Star-Herald in this church today is a testament to her exceptionalism.
Miss Nancy was an unequaled example of grace, good humor, and perseverance. She raised the stature of any room she entered. And when one thinks of her, she embodies class, a kind nature, and patience.
I think of that patience often when I recall the nearly years five we worked together. Twenty-three years ago, I was a 23-year-old newspaper reporter who arrived in Kosciusko to take the editor’s job at The Star-Herald. By then, she had already been working at the paper for nearly 40 years. She was so kind, welcoming, and eager to meet the new recruit. But I can only imagine what someone of her wisdom and experience must have really been thinking about someone who was so young and inexperienced as I was. Thankfully, we quickly forged a great working relationship — she was absolutely invaluable to any reporter or editor in that newsroom for her impressive address book full of contacts and her near photographic memory of People and Events.
Nancy’s desk was the first in the newsroom, so she was the gatekeeper – the person anyone who came in on business would have to deal with first. This was a perfectly acceptable arrangement because 99 percent of the people who walked in that office were there to see Nancy. The other 1 percent had just taken a wrong turn when they came in to renew their subscription.
Those who came in may have been dropping off a birth announcement, a wedding write-up, or a death notice. Or they could have been delivering a jar of preserves as a thank you for Nancy’s recent feature about their family, their hobbies, their work, or their homes. Over the years she wrote hundreds of stories and shot thousands of pictures, chronicling the lives of Attalans from all walks of life.
Over the course of her nearly 65-year career at the newspaper, Nancy became a living encyclopedia of the names and places that make Attala County live and breathe. She was an unofficial historian, recording events as they happened. She regularly held court with guests in the newsroom, and it was far more often than not you’d find Nancy at her desk with an interview subject or someone who simply stopped into visit.
Better still, Nancy came to be a dear friend to many who knew her. As we came to know one another, I learned about her love of her church, her large circle of friends with whom she often traveled or gathered for game nights and a round or two of Mexican train, her history at French Camp, and of course her devotion to her beloved husband Charles.
There also was Nancy’s quiet sense of humor. Never one to be cruel or cutting, she was often able to conjure a suitable wry comment at moments many of the rest of us would be at a loss for words.
She loved telling good stories, too, like the time she and I were returning from covering an event one hot summer afternoon and traffic was backed up along the highway. Nancy alleged I directed her to drive through a resident’s front yard so that we could clear the congestion and get back to work. I don’t quite remember it happening like that, but Nancy always enjoyed telling it that way.
There also was a hidden streak of mischief in her. The old Star-Herald building at 317 North Madison was in sad shape in the late 1990s, and the roof of that decrepit metal building allowed water to literally pour into the break room area whenever it rained. This led Neal Turnage, the newspaper’s publisher at the time, to often climb an extension ladder on a mission to enact whatever repairs could be made and forestall any major expenses. On one afternoon while Neal hammered away at the roof, Nancy and a co-worker sneaked outside and absconded with the ladder, stranding Neal some 25-feet into the Attala County sky. When the co-worker asked when they were going to take the ladder back, Nancy replied: “Oh, he’ll find a way down.”
But there was also a quiet resolve to Miss Nancy, and a set of steel nerves that were not often outwardly noticeable. Her strength and perseverance in the wake of an unimaginable tragedy — the loss of her husband Charles — and that ability to comport herself with her usual good nature and generous spirit even as it took years to achieve real closure over his loss is an example to every man, woman, and child in this sanctuary.
Our hearts are so very blue today for the loss of Miss Nancy. But at the same time they are deeply warmed by the realization she and Charles are again embracing for the first time in 17 years.
It is difficult to fathom the newspaper, this community, and our lives without our beloved Miss Nancy. Her commitment and service to Kosciusko, Attala County, and the people who call this community home is a lasting legacy most of us can only dream to achieve.
To me, she was a treasured friend, valued colleague, and my "Kosciusko mom."
We loved her dearly;
We will remember her fondly;
And her kind and gentle spirit will live on among us in the body of work and the loving family and friends she leaves behind…
Nancy Green: A very special lady
Nancy Green, 83, of Kosciusko, Mississippi, died Wednesday, May 1, 2019.
Typing that sentence was incredibly difficult for me, because Miss Nancy was a very special lady to not only me, but to everyone she ever met.
Nancy Green worked for nearly 65 years at The Star-Herald, a newspaper in Kosciusko. I met Miss Nancy for the first time on the morning of July 3, 2013, which was my first day as publisher of that newspaper.
While I was being recruited to come to Kosciusko, one of the last things the chief operating officer of the company who had recently purchased the paper told me about the place was that my only full-time reporter was 80 years old. I was still a few years shy of 40 at that time, and most of the reporters who had worked for me prior to that were closer to their teenage years than to their golden years. I quickly found out on that first day on the job that Miss Nancy was 78, not 80. I also quickly found out that this “little old lady” could work circles around most any other reporter.
Nancy was lifestyles editor at the Star-Herald when I came on as publisher, but her job duties included everything from handling calendar items and obituaries to writing feature stories to covering school board meetings. She also took outstanding photographs. Over her years at the newspaper, she wrote hundreds of stories and took thousands of pictures of the people of Attala County.
I consider my three years at the Star-Herald to be quite successful. Our team took a newspaper that had lost much of its connection to the community it served and built it back to the source of pride that it had been for most of its 150 years in business. That was only possible through the efforts of our entire staff, but especially Nancy. She had told other members of the staff before I made my arrival that she didn’t need that job, and she would just retire if she didn’t like the way things were headed. I must have won her over, because it broke my heart to see tears in her eyes on the day when I broke the news to her that I would be moving back to Alabama.
Nancy knew the importance of a newspaper to its community. She knew that we were there to record history and tell the stories of the people who call that area home. Nancy had a rolodex filled with names, numbers and addresses of just about everyone who had even visited Kosciusko and the surrounding areas since 1955. Having a living and breathing encyclopedia of that area sitting three feet from me was an invaluable asset. Even thought the publisher’s office was at the back of the building, I spent the majority of my time in the office sitting at a desk in the newsroom next to Nancy. That turned out to be an intelligent decision, because most anyone who visited that office was coming in to see Nancy. I was able to meet everyone in town and they all got to see that I had the Miss Nancy stamp of approval.
Personally, Nancy was also godsend to me and my family during our time in the Magnolia State. Miss Nancy became a surrogate grandmother for me and Andrea and great-grandmother for all of our children. She never had children of her own, but Nancy loved little ones. She had a great relationship all our children, but she especially enjoyed spending time with Joy. She would constantly talk to Joy about her wild hair that was almost always hanging down in her face. Nancy was also amazed that my children were barefoot a majority of the time, again, Joy being barefoot constantly.
Nancy was also a role model for crime victims as she persevered after the violent death of her husband Charles in 2002. The couple had been married for 42 years at the time of Mr. Green’s death. Even a decade later when I met her, it was obvious that she adored her husband by the loving way that she talked about him.
I can’t imagine Kosciusko and Attala County without Nancy Green. I certainly can’t imagine The Star-Herald without her. It’s my hope that the newspaper and the community will use this as a way to recognize that special relationship they share.
Miss Nancy accepted me as her “boss” at the Star-Herald and treated my family like they were her own. I’m so thankful our family got to spend some time with Nancy and I got one last photo taken with her back in late December. I’m also extremely thankful for the time that I was able to spend with her at the little newspaper covering the Beehive of the Hills.
James Phillips is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle.
Headlines must fit, some losses never will
“i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
“i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
“i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)
“i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true) and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you
“here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
“i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)”
-- e.e. cummins
(A poem, the like of which, any man worth his salt ought to be able to quote to any woman who may merit it.)
In the collection of euphemisms for proceedings at funerals, the best and the worst may be, “Paying respects.”
The best of it is the number of folks who so seldom merit respect be paid them, perhaps the reason such “respects” seldom get paid any more.
The worst is how short such musing fall at other times.
I could fill this page and many more with all sorts of good, fine words, and never really pay all the respect due Nancy Green.
She was, on more than one level, a visitation from another age and time, a finer time, when a female personage was expected to be a lady and thus was naturally assumed to be a lady until she proved otherwise.
Nancy Green was a lady through and through, not some frail flower of femininity, but a classy lady of strength and timber, of modesty and pride, soft spoken but precise in her comments, lovely but not saccharine.
Nancy remained a kind, gracious lady, despite the misfortune of working along side some of the roughest of cobs in one of the roughest of professions there was, W.C. (Dub) Shoemaker, Bob Monk, George Keith, Ed Noel…me.
Ladies have become mighty scarce these days in a culture where women are not only not expected to be ladies but are belittled and found faintly quaint and amusing for being ladies.
Newspaper folks figured it out a long time ago, what was coming. More than 40 years ago I was told “lady” was an editorial judgment and, save for editorials or personal commentary, the fairer sex was to be referred to as women. (There was a time when by one look you could tell it was a woman and not be pilloried for the gross assumption entailed.)
By the time I learned that, however, Nancy Green was already an established professional in my profession, and last week her 64-plus years in the business of The Star-Herald, our neighboring newspaper to the north, when she was busily shopping at home, her home, the home she had covered, defended and illuminated all those years, she died, just snuffed out like a candle.
And one more pure purist of professional, community journalism winked out, someone who knew a leed paragraph of a news story should have no more than 25 words, should not start with “a” or “the,” should have only active verbs and no “am’, “is,” “was,” “were” or such verbs in it, should tell the story quickly before anyone got too caught up in the narrative…to write a headline with no past tense or “understood” verbs…to do so many of the little things too many consider now too small to consider.
In my remembrances I consider no qualifiers in recollections of Nancy Green, no on-the-one-hand-this, on-the-other-hand-that. I have but one hand (hand to God) and am of but one mind on Nancy. I was awarded early on in my career the great honor, privilege, pleasure and golden opportunity to work next to her. I learned much from her; the most unlikeliest of people can be the source of great strength and integrity, however high the standards.
Nancy Green was my great, good friend, who died last week. I miss her already, and not just as a friend, but as a professional who cared deeply and completely about her profession, her trade, her job, her newspaper and her community. I have but one regret, that I never told her how much she meant to me.
She leaves an impeccable record as a newspaperwoman (more true to real life than a journalist and certainly above and beyond being a member of the “media,” mainstream or otherwise).
Excuse me as I try to write a headline that fits, even if the rest of this column falls woefully short.
Waid Prather is editor and publisher of The Carthaginian. He was a reporter for The Star-Herald from 1976-1980.