By Barb Arland-Fye
For Nancy Hamerlinck, it has always been about family; at home and in the office of The Catholic Messenger where she has worked for 20 years. Tomorrow, Nancy logs out of the Messenger’s database management system, sets aside her parish subscription lists, exits “Quickbooks” business finance software and retires.
We will miss Nancy’s patience, smile, common sense and great suggestions that benefited all aspects of our Messenger family — from proofreading pages to fielding phone calls to brainstorming subscription drive ideas to removing ink stains from clothing.
When she took time off for vacation, or to accompany a family member to the doctor, she laid out detailed lists and materials so that the newspapers could be sent in the mail and bills paid. On her own desk calendar she kept meticulous track of when each of us would be away from the office, not only for planning purposes but to prevent needless worry about our whereabouts.
Nancy made sure we were well-fed, bringing in trunk loads of freshly picked corn on the cob and tomatoes from her family’s farm in Cleveland, Ill. If I was running late for lunch, she’d call my office from the dining room for a head’s up about the soup being served and whether the salad bar was running low. She brought homemade treats to the office from card club or some get together with her husband, their three grown children and their families. The candy bowl on the front counter was always stocked with bubblegum (great for relieving deadline pressure) that attracted visitors from other offices in the Chancery.
She showed us photos on her phone of family get-togethers or of Keith and her celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary. She kept us posted by phone and on Facebook when Keith was critically ill and had to undergo delicate surgery. A woman of steadfast faith, she remained strong for her family. Nancy also remained strong for her Messenger family, when one of us or our loved ones dealt with serious illness.
Our staff meetings could become passionate at times. Nancy provided the clear, soft-spoken voice of reason when everyone seemed to be talking over one another. Her ideas for stories, marketing and the subscription drive campaigns were priceless. Most recently she tried to talk us into creating a subscription drive video involving Father Rich Adam’s dog Maggie (at Sacred Heart Cathedral) and a squirrel. We’ll let you know if that one pans out!
In a newsroom on deadline day, the virtue of patience could evaporate, except in the space around Nancy’s desk. Her reassuring smile, calm voice and positive attitude made an impact. Even when technical difficulties arose, Nancy focused on getting the challenge fixed instead of whining about it.
I couldn’t blame her if she had visions of wringing my neck over the 2018 subscription campaign that resulted in approximately five times more work than the previous initiatives. Nancy’s solution: produce a list of what worked and didn’t work in that campaign drive.
During another subscription drive campaign, Ken Miller of Lee Enterprises (which manages our database) dreamed up the ingenious “Tuesday non-subscriber” concept. Implementing that strategy to convert non-subscribers into subscribers was labor intensive for Ken, Nancy and other staffers. But Nancy deserves a halo for embracing it.
In the Angelus for June 15, 2014, Pope Francis spoke about true love as being boundless. “… A person who loves others for the very joy of love is a reflection of the Trinity … True love is boundless, but it knows how to limit itself, to intersect with others, to respect the freedom of others.”
That describes what Nancy has been to our Messenger family … an example of love that is a reflection of the Trinity.
(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at email@example.com.)