“Life is partly what we make it and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.”— American playwright Tennessee Williams
I’m not sure whether Edna chose me as a friend, if I chose her, or if it was simply destiny that caused our paths to cross. In any case, it didn’t take me long to realize that her professional association and her friendship made a difference in my life.
Edna was employed by the competing newspaper when the company known today as Granite Publications bought The Madisonville Meteor. Prior to that day almost 30 years ago, the Dobbin, Texas, native had several years of newspaper experience covering many titles on her resume except for one: publisher.
When the opportunity arose to purchase the competitor, we quickly closed on a deal that included Edna joining our team. Shortly after that, we found ourselves needing a new publisher for the Meteor. Planning a trip to Madisonville to arrange a change in leadership for the newspaper, I called Edna about meeting with me on the details.
“I’ll be here,” she told me before quickly adding, “but I don’t want the publisher’s job.” Her reply caught me off totally off guard. Not even a hint of my plan to offer her the job had I leaked. It didn’t take long to learn that Edna was perceptive like that, however. So,, I just laughed and simply said, “OK.”
Once details for the change were finalized, Edna asked, “Are you going to be the new publisher?” I told her “no” without tipping my hand that I would wait for her to decide she wanted the job. “Can you keep things running until I can get someone in place?”
She allowed as how she thought she could do that much but reiterated her stance that she did not want the publisher’s job. It didn’t take long to learn that Edna was sometimes stubborn like that, so I just told her that was fine.
After reviewing some basics on what we needed to do “until I could hire someone,” I left Madisonville with Edna “temporarily” in charge. For the next several weeks, we talked frequently ensuring that she had the support she needed. Every conversation was concluded with her asking, “You found anybody for the job yet?” I always answered with something like, “Still looking, just haven’t found the right person yet.”
A few weeks of “have you found anybody” followed by “still looking” had gone by when one day she paused after my answer and said, “If that publisher’s job is still open, I’d like to apply.” I laughed and told her, “What took you so long, we thought you were never going to give in.”
To no one’s surprise, Edna was a superb publisher not just at Madisonville, but also at Boerne where she followed me in that position. In the years between Madisonville and Boerne that we worked together and developed a great friendship, I came to appreciate Edna for many reasons.
It didn’t take long to learn that Edna’s insistence on doing it her way was her drive for excellence, and that her expectation for those around her to excel was her hope for them to become not just the employee the paper needed, but also the individual they were destined to be. And it didn’t take long to learn that her desire to help people accomplish all of these things was her gift.
I know because in more ways than one, she did those things for me both professionally and personally.
If you are a Saturday morning reader, chances are you are reading this as I make my way south from Center, Texas to Sam Houston Memorial Funeral Home in Montgomery for 10-12 a.m. visitation and 12 noon services for my friend, Edna Keasling.
Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune, the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.
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