As a young adult in my first “real world” experience outside of working as a cashier, I didn’t know what to think walking into The Mount Airy News for a Thanksgiving and Christmas break part-time internship/job.
At the time in 1999-2000, the reporters and staff still were using 35mm film photography, and each one had one of the old iMacs that were a strange shade of teal.
The office still had the old wood grain panel walls, which now have a coat of gray over them, and the newsroom had carpet, fewer offices and each staff member had a large desk, some in L shapes.
I clearly recall a lady sitting at the back of the middle row of desks in the newsroom. And when I returned to The News office as a full-time employee in February of 2001, the same lady was sitting at the same desk, right behind my permanent spot.
Eleanor Powell and I became desk neighbors, and other than my short stint at The Stokes News, we’ve been inseparable ever since.
Miss Ellie, as we all fondly call her in the newsroom, has been a staple you could count on at The Mount Airy News for many, many years — an institution.
I’ve always been in awe at the knowledge she holds about the people in her community — your community. She knows generations of families from Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain and surrounding areas.
She’s seen youngsters grow up, get married, have children, and then those children grow up and get married and have children, and — you get the point.
In addition to writing about and sharing some of the area’s best cooks and recipes, Miss Ellie has spent years sharing the community’s social news through the Surry Scene, and the Sunday soceity section’s announcements, including weddings, engagements and anniversaries, as well as birth announcements. But she also has spent her fair share of time covering breaking news and other stories when needed.
She’s shared her wealth of information and knowledge with those of us who have come and gone at The News, and in announcing her retirement last week, we all feel the coming void that will be present in the newsroom and the newspaper.
I have a great amount of respect for Miss Ellie, as a fellow journalist, and as a fountain of knowledge, and I will miss her dearly when I don’t get to see her smiling face, hear her wonderful laugh and get to goof off with her on occasion.
I remember her coming back from Main Street a few years ago after she got a bearded rough-looking motorcyclist to give her a ride around the block. She had pictures to prove it.
We’ve taken pictures of her in Pac-Man antenna headbands (something we were all given during a training seminar) and in a Santa hat that was a big coiled spring with a pom-pom on the top.
Miss Ellie, I will miss seeing you on a daily basis dearly, as will the rest of us. It has been a great honor to work with you and have you as part of my life. Just remember, you are part of The Mount Airy News family and you are always welcome. We love you very much.
Congratulations, and I hope you enjoy your life after your incredible 52-year career.
To honor Eleanor Powell, and give the community a chance to recognize her, a public reception will be held at The Mount Airy News, 309 N. Renfro St., Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. during which you can have a chance to wish her well on her retirement.
Wendy Byerly Wood is the associate editor of The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1923.