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In 34 years at The News I have worked with many reporters, editors and publishers. Some have stayed a few years and some less than six months. There have been only two that I worked with more than 15 years, and one of them died recently.
Mary Busam was with the News when I came here in 1978 and she stayed until retiring in 1994.
Having worked near her that long – for a while our desks faced each other with no wall and virtually no space between them — I have a lot of memories of her.
I was a cocky kid straight out of college when we started working together, but I can remember only one instance in all that time when she got irritated with me.
My memories are apparently similar to those of others who worked with her. George Stuteville, who was a reporter-photographer with The News from 1978 until he left for a position with the Indianapolis Star in 1981 or ’82, heard about Mary’s death and wrote the following letter to our editor:
“I had the privilege of working alongside Mary Busam for several years when I was a reporter for The News — that was the complete name of our paper then; Perry County was added to it later. I was saddened at the news of her death. She was a fine reporter with a passion for ‘getting it right.’ By her example, I am sure she had a tremendous influence on not only the parade of reporters and editors who passed through The News, but also with those she covered. She loved Cannelton and was a walking history book. She had a finely honed sense of humor. When we worked together in the late 1970s and early ’80s, former Editor Danny Bolin and I loved to crack jokes and make her chuckle.
“I am just certain she will be dearly missed. I will carry in my heart fond memories of her, and when I visit Tell City I will know that she made the area a better place by her skills as a writer.”
George hit the nail on the head in every part of his description of Mary. She definitely had a passion for ‘getting it right’ in her stories and was very thorough in her reporting. And she did have a good sense of humor and enjoyed a good joke even when it was on her.
And yes, she loved Cannelton, where she lived nearly all her life, and knew its history well. If I had a question about anything that had happened there years before, Mary was the first person I went to for an answer.
I also enjoyed hearing her anecdotes about notable Cannelton people she had known, including Bob Cummings, the former editor of the Cannelton News who was mainly responsible for the building of the Cannelton-to-Hawesville, Ky. bridge that now bears his name.
Mary will definitely be missed, but I’m glad she got to enjoy 18 years of retirement after deciding to leave the News when she turned 65.
Widowed at an early age with two young kids, she worked hard and rarely traveled. Her retirement gift from the News was a set of luggage that she promptly put to good use on a multi-week vacation to California that she had probably been putting off for years.
She also did volunteer work for some organizations in her retirement, as she was always active in her community.