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The Heavenly Times

March 21, 2011 - Phyllis Sigal
The Heavenly Times

When Alex Marshall, former publisher of The Times Leader, pitched Joe Lampert as editor and me as managing editor to the powers that be in 1996, he called us "the Dream Team."

That was quite a compliment.

But, there is a real dream team right now ... putting out The Heavenly Times.

And its latest team member is Joseph Carter Lampert, who died on March 13 at the age of 57 after his nine-year, valiant fight against brain cancer.

And what a fight it was. Given just a year to live when diagnosed, he certainly beat the odds. A few years ago, he and his wife Bridget moved to Maryland where they could seek cutting-edge treatment.

Every time I saw Joe over the years, whether it was a visit to the News-Register office where he worked for about 11 years before moving to The Times Leader, or at the Heritage Music BluesFest or just around town, I was always afraid it would be the last time I'd see him. But, then, there he'd be again. Looking great.

And now, Joe joins that real dream team ... all of whom I had to pleasure of working with during my T-L tenure.

Of course, Joe is sharing the editing duties with Bill McNell, who was editor at The Times Leader back when I began my 18 and a half years at the Martins Ferry paper in 1980. He hired me just after my college graduation, and was an inspiration and a wonderful teacher. He was a great editor, and I especially admired his knack for knowing what was going on in the Belmont County courthouse.

Probably showing Joe the ropes is Harriett Miklas, who took me under her wing and taught me how to use the computer system my first day on the job. She's been gone a couple of years. She could do anything — garden, sew, write, type, raise kids (she had seven) — and always was willing to learn, and willing to teach.

Up there covering the "Angels vs. the Devils" games is Cal Pokas. He was sports editor for a number of years at The Times Leader.

Boyd Nelson was The Times Leader photographer for many, many years, starting there way, way before I did. In fact, a photograph of my dad and me, at age 5 dressed in 1920s flapper attire, appeared in The Times Leader thanks to Boyd. We were riding in a convertible as part of an annual Bellaire festival. I'm sure he's up there snapping some great photos — undoubtedly with a camera with real film.

And, then there is Tricia Graham, keeping everyone laughing, with her sense of humor that transcends all else. She beat Joe to the pearly gates by a few months; she died last July, just a few days after her 43rd birthday. It was a heart problem that took her away. Tricia was lifestyles editor, succeeding my stint as lifestyles editor, when Joe and I became that "dream team."

And keeping all of them in line, always finding a scoop despite the fact that the accounting office was her domain, is Donna Landers. She knew everything that was going on, and had an opinion about it — which she never kept to herself! She's probably managing that dream team.

I'm sure they welcomed Joe with open arms. He was a kind, compassionate, patient man. A consummate journalist, who made the best news decisions. A great teacher and inspiration to young reporters. It was a pleasure being part of his team at The T-L.

And I do they keep the design editor slot open for me ... for a good, long time.


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