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In praise of our office caretakers

ONE great aspect of newspapers, among many, is their constant position in the flow of a community's tribulations and progress.

We're in a period of change here at the Charleston Daily Mail.

Two of our leaders -- rocks of our coverage and philosophy -- are ready to move on.

For 17 years, our masthead has called Nanya Friend our editor. Inside the newsroom, we've affectionately called her "Mom."

That's because she badgers us to do better, checks our work, sets our priorities -- and often soothes our wounds.

She is just as likely to advise you to eat more nutritiously as to tighten up your lead.

She has a great mind for news, a respect for the community and an affinity for the staff.

She hired me when I was a youngster and guided my growth. In recent years, I've been part of her leadership team.

It's such a privilege to learn from someone you admire so much. And so many people who have worked with Nanya over the years would tell you the same.

Now Nanya has decided to step aside, to spend some wellearned time tending to herself and to her family.

There's no way to describe to you how much we'll miss her.

Meanwhile, Johanna Maurice is also retiring. She's going to stay a little while longer to ease the transition for her successor (No one could be a replacement), but soon she will spend her days in other ways.

She has guided the Daily Mail's editorial page philosophy during four decades. Talk about a constant presence and sustained influence. Wow.

Hanna has represented the Daily Mail's limited-government, fiscally conservative, progrowth point of view with dignity and restraint. She resisted ever letting the paper's positions get personal.

But, as with Nanya, there was more to Hanna in the workplace than you ever saw in the paper.

By that, I mean, Hanna was our drug supplier - generally Advil Cold and Sinus. Anyone racked by the sniffles knew they could make a trip to Hanna's desk for some relief.

In other words, she's been a caretaker for many of us.

Hanna has also been a provider of take-out menus and, often, a direct source of food.

More than once, as hunger pangs struck me on deadline, Hanna came to the rescue with a chicken sandwich or a Tudor's sausage biscuit.

I hope I thanked her through my hunger. I'm certainly thanking her now.

Readers are going to miss these two voices in the paper. We're going to miss them in our newsroom.

But I promise you those of us who remain will do all we can to produce a newspaper and a website that will continue to make them proud.

We'll strive to carry out Nanya's vision of fair, aggressive coverage of local news and Hanna's example of respectful conservatism on the editorial page.

Please keep reading and let us know how we're doing.

And we'll keep our eyes on you, too.

McElhinny is the Daily Mail's managing editor until Monday, when he becomes the editor. Email him at bradmc@dailymail. com or follow him on Twitter @BradMcElhinny.


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