By Jerry Ceppos, The Inter-Mountain
FRANKLIN, W.Va. — Forty-four years after I edited my high-school newspaper, a carefully sealed package arrived at my office at LSU, where I was the dean of the mass-communication school. Inside was a pristine copy of my last issue of the Red and Black newspaper along with equally well-preserved articles celebrating the paper written by two high-school journalism associations in 1964 and 1965.
Five years later, another carefully assembled package arrived with more memorabilia from the 1960s. But the real gems in both packages were meticulously handwritten notes from the sender, Mary Lee Ruddle, a long-time resident of Franklin, West Virginia, who was my high-school newspaper adviser and one of the inspirations for my 53-year career in journalism.
She wrote in the notes and mentioned in a phone call a few months ago that she was “so proud” of my accomplishments, ignoring the fact that she was 95 years old and that I am no kid at 75.
But that’s how Miss Ruddle–to this day, none of us dares call her anything other than “Miss Ruddle”–was, an unrelenting coach who demanded high standards but, importantly, assured us that we could meet even her requirements. Her confidence was important for a geeky high-school boy…