In recognition of unsung heroes: Editor’s Notebook

The continual deadlines of a newspaper, even one publishing once a week, have many of us rushing from one assignment or meeting to another. In such an environment, we don’t allow ourselves enough opportunity to take a step back and appreciate what excellent contributors we have at the Town Crier.

We often refer to ourselves as a community newspaper. What is that? To me, it means hyperlocal coverage. It also means a newspaper that belongs to the community. The Town Crier, 65 years strong, has been and will continue to be successful, not because of any one publisher or editor, but because of the high level of interest and involvement by those who read it.

Our readers are part owners, the way I see it. They feel entitled to use our pages for items that are important to them. From wedding announcements to stories about service clubs offering scholarships, we’re here to help them spread the message.

Then there are our regular contributors – those who write columns, take photos, draw comics or offer time to help with whatever the needs are. We’ve come to expect them to show up like clockwork with another contribution – much of the time free of charge – as if they were required to do so.

I’m taking the time here to say thank you to them all. The creativity of their work and the commitment involved leave me appreciative beyond words. To all of you, and you know who you are, you make the Town Crier better than it otherwise would be. Your work is not taken for granted.

The names of regular contributors over the nearly 20 years I’ve been here are too numerous to mention in this space. That said, I feel the need to name names.

Let’s start with our copy editors, the unsung heroes often considered the backbone of newspapers. Colleen Schick and Joan Garvin have been with us for several years, tirelessly dedicated to getting things right. Our paper has improved a thousandfold with their presence.

I also salute our op-ed columnists – the names you see atop page 9. For more than a decade now, Kerri Havnen Gordon and Grace Acosta have offered very intelligent insights on their lives and the world around them. Ditto for relative newcomers Jackie Madden Haugh and Allyson Johnson. And a thank you to former columnist Charlotte Jarmy, whose “Reflections” ran for approximately 15 years.

Young Girl and Boy Scouts taking tours of our paper often say the Comics & Puzzles Page is their favorite. That’s thanks in part to three local comic-strip creators – Matt Cuson, Matt Taylor and Bob Garrow – who consistently brighten our day with their work.

Our special sections are special in part because of people who are knowledgeable and passionate about subjects – gardening (Tanya Kucak), cars (Gary Anderson), books (Nancy Dickenson) – and impart their expertise regularly.

Some just show up in the office and ask what they can do to help. Thank you Zoe Morgan, Renny Glasner, Tamara Hahn, Charles So and a host of other interns from years gone by.

Two gentlemen need special mention: One is the late Richard Billings, who regularly showed up for seven years to type up messy, handwritten letters to the editor or three-paragraph briefs about upcoming events. He never received a byline, but that’s not why he was here – he just wanted to keep busy. We also enjoyed singing in the office together, much to the chagrin of our co-workers.

And what can be said about Clyde Noel that hasn’t already been said?

For the better part of nearly 20 years, he’s been here as a volunteer, flagging down passersby for our Sidewalk Interviews (at left) and writing and taking photos on a wide range of events. He, too, offers his financial expertise in a regular column for our business section.

A few other contributors from the past deserve a special shout-out: Carol Watts and the late Richard Campbell, who spent countless hours getting our early websites up and running, also free of charge; the late Lee Lynch, a former Los Altos mayor who showed up dutifully once a week for volunteer work; and the late Mary Cristy, whose beautifully written columns and sentiments graced this paper for 50 years. These are rare, giving people who are truly missed.

These contributors – and many, many others, to whom I apologize for not including – are what make this paper special. They donate their time to and demonstrate their passion for the community through their local newspaper.

Thank you, contributors, past and present. You keep our “little guy” smiling.

Bruce Barton is editor-in-chief of the Town Crier.

Submit a Letter to the Editor

The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

You can also have your say right here at – scroll to the bottom of any story to add a comment. 

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