(The following is my column from this week's Newton County News.)
Writing a column for a newspaper is never easy.
That’s not my way of moaning about not being able to come up with ideas. It is more of an appreciation of those who are able to come up with ideas, not just once a week, but week after week, month after month, year after year.
It takes a special person to meet a deadline that seems to come every couple of days rather than once a week. Eulah Hawkins was that kind of person.
As a neophyte newspaper editor for the Newton County News back in 1977 and early 1978, I struggled to come up with copy to fill the pages, did not have any concept of how to go out and get copy (I got the job because only two people answered the application and after a few weeks, the other one left to attend college full time.), and I was more concerned with my own grades since I was also attending Missouri Southern State College at the time. Plus, in addition to being the editor, I was also the advertising salesman.
The one thing I could count on week after week was the presence of Eulah’s column. Sometimes it was about what was going on in the community, sometimes it was about her family, sometimes it was just about life in general, but it was always readable and kept Newton County News readers looking forward to page two every Thursday.
Eulah’s finest moments as a reporter/columnist came in late 1977 as she covered the death of the much-loved Barbara McNeely, an MSSC student and East Newton High School graduate, and the trial of William McMurray, the man who murdered her. She took the reader into the trial, filling her story with rich detail and emotion that struck just the right chord with readers who were still grieving over Barbara’s loss.
When I returned to the Newton County News in late 1980, working for Emery Styron, Eulah was still providing her columns, only now, thanks to Emery, her work wasn’t the only thing NCN readers could look forward to when their papers arrived.
After Emery left, and I once again became editor, I had the pleasure of working with Eulah again until February 1982, when the publisher Richard Bush dispatched me for a second time. I was much better as a reporter and editor, but I still couldn’t sell advertising for the life of me.
For the next two decades, Eulah Hawkins continued to be a staple of the Newton County News, joined by other columnists such as Bill Pierson and Vickie Thomas in the 1980s and 1990s, and Donna Fullerton and Wana Senter, whose columns still grace these pages.
I was sad to learn of Eulah’s passing last week. She will be missed, but thankfully we were able to share many wonderful Thursdays with her.