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Joanne Thrift: An Appreciation

By Greg Wilson

Publisher, Anderson Observer

On Saturday, we lost one of those people whose decades of hard work made Anderson a better place.

Joanne Thrift spilled a lot of ink during her more than 40 years as an editor and reporter at the Anderson Independent and Daily Mail. A friend of mine probably expressed the sentiments of many of us when she said: "I remember her byline from as far back as it it possible to remember."

I think I first met Joanne at church some time before working with her, but I got to know her in the newsroom at the Anderson Independent during pretty much the entire decade of the 1980s. It was in those transitional days when the Daily Mail became the PM edition (complete with the wild stories of UFOs and bigfoot babies during its final days). Joanne, who had been editor of the Daily Mail at one point, was busy creating the weekly Hometowner, which some of you may remember was zoned into different editions aimed at covering local news in different parts of Anderson.  My first impression was how busy she was, how fast she moved, and the amazement that she was not only creating a new weekly newspaper, but making sure the features section of the regular newpaper was kept full of rich stories abour our neighbors and our town.

In a newsroom increasing full of young reporters and editors who were always looking for "big" stories to cover, Joanne never lost her passion for "small" stories, the stories important to her readers.  And while her talent, experience, and understanding were often underappreciated, she never slowed down.

She was the last of a grand group of local journalists (which included the likes of Slim Hebree, Jim Brown and Louise Ervin, all of whom wrote stories about our area for more than 40 years) who knew the area not only as an office where they went to work, but as a place that was their home.

A little over two years ago when I started the Anderson Observer, I called Joanne and asked her if she would be willing to write anything, anytime, anyway for this newspaper. She laughed a little and said she was not sure if anyone much remembered her anymore. She then, very politiely, declined, adding that she just wasn't up to writing for newspapers any more. I wish now she has made an exception and told her story to her readers from start to finish.

But she didn't, so what we do have left is a legacy to which we can all aspire.

From helping blaze the trail for women journalists in South Carolina in the first half of her career, to keeping local journalism alive and creating a the Brighter Christmas Fund (which continues to bless thousands in need every year during the holiday season) during the second half of her career, Joanne Thrift's hard work made Anderson a better place for all of us. She will be missed, but not forgotten.

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Reader Comments (2)

Joanne was perhaps the last of the women trailblazers in local journalism. She earned respect for her professionalism as well as her talent. Saw the job to be done and did it without a lot of fuss or fanfare. She will be remembered as a good person who cared about her job and about her community, but she also, without knowing it, was an inspiration to countless young girls who wanted to be a "newspaperman" just like her.

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLongtime Independent reader

Thanks for the kind words, Greg. It's nice to know there are lots of people around who know what mom meant to this town.

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Thrift

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