When I first met Charlotte Sanders I had been writing “Sideroads” for several years and I had been leaving the column wit the editor until a few years ago when the paper was without an editor.
At that time, I was directed to leave it with Charlotte, who had been a reporter for the Williamson Daily News for over 60 years. She would type and have the column layout prepared for inclusion in the paper on the assigned day.
I did not know the day I knocked on Charlotte’s office door that I would be meeting a very special lady. In the few short years I knew her, I saw much of her character, faith, commitment and love for life … all the things needed to build a life of distinction … a life that was an example others could follow.
That very first day in her office, Charlotte turned from her computer, rose to her feet, pulled a chair close to her desk and invited me to sit. In the days that followed, that became a ritual. When I knocked on her door, the now familiar “come in” indicated she was moving the chair into position for me to to “sit a spell” and “chew the fat” with her.
Since the News moved to 2nd Avenue, Charlotte didn’t have a door. All the desks of the reporters are in one big room. The reporters face the front glass and can see who enters the newsroom. Every time I took my column down, I saw Charlotte rise to move a chair into place for me.
We talked those times, about anything and everything. Writing, life, faith, events past and present. Family and friends, important things and things not so important.
Charlotte became my mentor. When I made a mistake, her correction was kind and if she thought something was good, she was quick to encourage me.
I lost my large, much used Webster’s dictionary in the 2008 flood and she gifted me with a Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. In the presentation section, she wrote “To Leona, my Sideroads friend and flood survivor.” I was honored to be called her friend.
A short time after that she gave me a reporter’s notebook. Both books are treasured mementos of a talented reporter and a caring individual who took the time to encourage a green writer like me.
Charlotte was one-of-a-kind, a lady of distinction. She was a member of a generation whose faith was grounded in God and the truth of His word. She was people-oriented, loyal to family and friends. Commitment was real to Charlotte. She was an example of character and dignity.
And adventursome spirit was also a part of who Charlotte was. She told me about her young years, about fishing with her father, airplanes, horseback riding, teaching swimming and winning medals.
Charlotte loved life. She enjoyed it to the fullest, working to make her corner of the world a better place. She was a lady of distinction and I am blessed to have been one of the many whose life she touched.