By Amy Johns
There is a song from one of my favorite Broadway musicals — “Wicked” — that is called “For Good.” The words are between two friends. “Because I knew you I have been changed for good.” Today I say goodbye to someone who definitely changed me for good.
Carol Shackelford has been part of the News-Capital team for many years. To be honest, I probably would not be here if it weren’t for Carol. Needless to say the News-Capital runs fairly parallel to this community. It’s challenging for a newcomer to find a place among the lifers. I joined the NC team in 2000 and out of everyone, Carol Shackelford was the most welcoming. There was never a doubt in my mind she loved this newspaper and she cared about everyone here unconditionally.
After several months of jumping through hundreds of hoops and feeling totally frustrated and bullied, I was at the end of my rope. Carol sensed I needed some kind words. She told me to hang in there. She said I had to earn my stripes and that if I just kept being tough and was willing to learn, everyone else would come around eventually. She encouraged me every day. Truth be told, I am certain she encouraged others to give me a break now and again. Carol taught me about the newspaper business. There was never a time when she was too busy to explain something to me. Carol was fair and treated everyone with respect. We all seemed to behave better whenever she was around.
She had this infectious laugh that you could hear from the other room. It was always so entertaining to hear her cutting up with other members of the sales team. I can only imagine what her thoughts were, hearing the wild conversations from women several years her junior. She kept up and always participated in the conversations.
Carol had an unyielding work ethic. She was always here. If it was icy and slick, she was here. If she was sick, she was here. There were numerous times that she was here long after everyone else had clocked out for the day. It was during those times she and I would chat for a few minutes. The conversation was always about our children. She was an incredible mother and loved her family with every fiber of her being. Her eyes would always sparkle when she spoke about her girls or her grandchildren. Love of family was something we shared. She would always tell me to go home and get a life. I would say it right back to her and we would laugh. Whichever one of us left first would always tell the other goodnight and have a good evening.
Carol was a remarkable woman. She was kind and caring. I do not recall her ever saying a cross word to anyone here at work. She was funny. I will miss her very much. I am humbled to have known her. And because I knew her I have been changed — for good.
Amy Johns is the publisher at the McAlester News-Capital. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.