A loss of graciousness

The Baltimore Sun

It is a somber day in Wordville. Word came to the newsroom yesterday that Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun's director of content (read: editor) had died of the breast cancer that she had gallantly fought for years.

I have known Mary throughout her entire career at The Sun, from her early days in the features department, through her development as a journalist on the news side, and most recently as the boss. She was eager, energetic, and enthusiastic in all her pursuits. Particularly as editor, she was willing to try new things, to draw new audiences, to bolster The Sun's journalism, no matter how challenging the circumstances.

And she was an encourager. When I returned to the paper in 2010, she was pleased that I brought You Don't Say (which she actually read) with me, and when I suggested a weekly vocabulary feature and a weekly video joke, she was all for them. Not that that singles me out: I am sure that colleagues throughout the newsroom can recount instances in which she took a personal interest in their work.

Her tactfulness was extraordinary. On the occasions on which she was unhappy with something I had written, there was no mistaking her meaning, but the delivery was so delicately and thoughtfully constructed that it left no sting.

But nothing displays her character better than the way she confronted her illness. When I say that she fought gallantly, that is no mere figure of speech. Even on days when it was clear that she was drained from the disease or the treatment, she was unfailingly cheerful, steadily encouraging us in the work. (How often do you associate cheerfulness and laughter with your boss?)  Her commitment to her people and their work never faltered.

If you have not already read it, you will surely want to read Jean Marbella's affectionate tribute to Mary.

In a little while I will be preparing to go in to the newsroom, to buckle down to the job, to put out the paper, to make it as clean and clear and accurate as we know how. That is what Mary would have expected of us, and that is the best tribute we can give her.


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