I’m a journalist who loves to teach or a teacher who loves to do journalism – I can’t decide. Moved to Michigan from southern Illinois in 1981 and still haven’t gotten used to calling soda pop. I was a full-time journalist until 1994, when I was invited to teach at Oakland University, where I am now a full-time instructor and curriculum adviser. Among the odds and ends that dot my timeline – I won a pony when I was 12, backpacked across Europe when I was 21, lost on “Wheel of Fortune” when I was 28, interviewed Oprah Winfrey when I was 30, had a baby when I was 37, quit my full time job to freelance when I was 38, co-authored a mass market paperback that was published when I was 43, earned my master’s degree when I was 48, became a grandma at 49, renewed my wedding vows with Garry on the Golden Gate Bridge when I was 52, swam in the Mediterranean when I was 58, and started taking classes again when I was 59. Now I’m … well, you figure it out. Next adventure, please.
Fifty years ago, I was finishing my sophomore year in high school. To put this into perspective, the Beatles in 1967 released the greatest rock album in history: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The legendary Roy Johnston was our varsity basketball coach. Coach stalked the sidelines during games, chomping strands of blood-red licorice. He intimidated referees, his own players and his critics. I had played JV basketball, and I truly loved sports. In November, when varsity tryouts were announced, Coach Roy summoned me to his office, put an arm around my shoulders and said: “Garry, I’ve been thinking about you, about ways you can help our basketball team. The best way for you to help our team this winter … is to write about it. I want you to report on the team for the local newspapers.” An insightful teacher, Coach recognized what I was skilled at — and steered me in that direction. I became the Voice of the Bulldogs. People began reading MY stories. The thrill of a byline won me over. A long career in journalism followed.
Thanks to Kelli Titus for permission to use her photo for the About Us and byline mug.