On Monday Don Meyers, editorial page editor at the Daily Herald in Provo, Utah called to tell me Sharon Gholdston died Saturday. Just this weekend I had been thinking about her. She was my first boss when I got back into journalism and was one of three people instrumental in my success at getting back in.
After the phone call I had a “She would have wanted it this way” moment. I had a 4 p.m. deadline for a story I was writing. I could either finish the story before getting to my thoughts about Sharon, or rush full boar into a tribute. I knew Sharon would want me to meet my deadline. I almost made it.
The Herald first hired me as a contract reporter. When I went to the Pacific Northwest to drop off clips and resumes, she convinced the editor to hire me full time so I’d stay.
Sharon was a good boss who carried a long leash on us reporters. I once got away with two-word lead — “Spring tempts.” — because she was willing to see how the effort to usher in a season poetically in a newspaper.
She was a good coach and a reporter’s advocate. She was having health issues back then, but got to work most every day and led a young reporting staff through deadlines and scoops and projects. She went to a Poynter seminar for a week and came back and led us through a lot of the exercises. She’d work with a reporter on a story to make it better, especially if it got turned in early.
Beyond her influence on my career, she was good people and made some of the best ribs I’d ever had. It was the newsroom tradition to pool the small cash awards the parent company would give us for monthly recognition and do an annual rib feast in her backyard. That was a good Saturday.
She was the first person to urge me to read Harry Potter, for which my daughter should show a great deal of gratitude.
Sharon was a Southerner who had blended quite well in Utah and, if I recall this correctly, made occasional polite retorts to any attacks on her native culture. I do recall her bristling when someone in the newsroom suggested putting a Krispy Kreme doughnut in the microwave. It just seemed sacrilege.
About two years ago I called her because of an editorial page editor job opening in Saint George. She’d had a single experience with the paper, not an especially good experience, so I called to hear her story. She was candid about what happened, but more than that I remember more how good it was to talk with her.
I owe her a lot and I hope God rewards her generously just for her influence on my life.
Her obituary is here until about the end of November.