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Life without bylines & deadlines
by Kenda Nelson
Jan 31, 2013 | 1843 views | 1 1 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Association President Chad Ferguson presents the South Texas Press Association Journalist of the Year award to Kenda Nelson, editor of the Refugio County Press, in 2011.
Association President Chad Ferguson presents the South Texas Press Association Journalist of the Year award to Kenda Nelson, editor of the Refugio County Press, in 2011.
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This week, I close a door to 15 years at the Refugio County Press to open another to begin another exciting venture. I feel the same eagerness I felt the day I walked into the newsroom.

The years of deadlines and bylines have come and gone – hard to imagine where the time went.

Looking back, the path I’ve traveled since I was asked to join the Refugio County Press staff in 1998 has been lined with professionals whose hard work inspired and energized me.

Three different owners have come and gone. Martha Lamson hired me and allowed me to write a column with Editor Vivian Tucker encouraging me along the way; David Holden sent me out into the county in 1999 to write the news; and Chip and Jeff Latcham asked me in 2003 to stay on as editor.

I’ve never regretted a minute of my time here. My love of journalism began long ago.

In high school, Fran Boenig surprised me with the RHS Journalism Award back when the Bobcat Blab was a wonderful little tabloid.

Of course, there was Sister Marion Walter at Our Lady of the Lake University who taught me the art of communication through the written word. Misspelled words or grammatical errors were an automatic “F.”

When I was a kid growing up on Third Street, Grandad and Daddy had subscriptions to the Corpus Christi Caller and the Corpus Christi Times before the editions were combined.

Refugio County had several weeklies and newspapers were a staple at our house.

On Sundays, I’d grab the funnies to read my favorite comic strip, Brenda Starr, Reporter. Her glamorous, adventurous life awed me.

Her steamy romance with Basil St. John and the birth of their child, Starr Twinkle, were my first glimpses of a female who had it all – career, marriage, children – all the things I wanted when I grew up.

Along with an insatiable need to read, I think I wanted to write almost since the time I could talk. Whatever knowledge and understanding I gained of people was spurred by an eager curiosity.

The people I’ve met and written about touched me in the deepest way possible. The proud World War II vets are gone now, as is the young man on death row and the cowboys who would rather be in the saddle than eat. I remember each one – the sad quiver in a voice, the sparkle in an eye, the tears that wet a cheek.

In these last 15 years, I lost my beloved father and mother, Kenneth and Penny Herring, and my home of 32 years and, very nearly, my husband Ron.

Through pain and joy, the deadlines and bylines kept coming and the work kept me steady, strong and moving forward.

In 2011, when I was named the South Texas Press Association’s Journalist of the Year, I was bowled over. I look at all the awards on my wall and I am humbled.

Too many people never receive recognition for their hard work, yet they soldier on, week after week, month after month and year after year.

I have been blessed to have been judged well by my peers in the business.

But, without new challenges, inspiration wilts and visions wane.

Last week, County Judge Rene Mascorro selected me to be the director of Elderly Services.

The latest figures from the Census Bureau released last month reveal that Refugio County has a crippling level of poverty among too many of its senior citizens.

Additional funding is needed to support the services currently offered to our seniors and new ones that will surely arise.

Writers are driven by a hunger to put their talent to the best use. A new challenge has been laid at my feet ­– it’s a mission I cannot resist.
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January 31, 2013
Best wishes for your new career although you'll probably run into some deadlines there also.

I hope that Chip and Jeff treat you and your associates to a great party out of respect for your service and contributions.