I first met Grace Herndon in 1977, when Barbara Lane-Dowling hired me as a reporter for the Telluride Times. Gracie was half-time reporter from Norwood, and covered the San Miguel County Commission, among other things, for the Times.
She was in her early 50s at the time, over twice my age, a seasoned reporter, having worked for the Grand Junction Sentinel, among others. She was a rancher’s wife who hailed from Chicago but adapted easily to rural Norwood like the Leo lioness she was. Husband Steve always had a smile, as did Gracie, and they had attitudes to match. Grace and Steve were mentors for me, as they were for anyone who fell within their warm and loving circle.
Over the years, Grace taught me volumes about writing and life. Working with her was a pleasure. She was consistently upbeat, lively, involved, excited, professional, and fun. She knew her job and how to do it. You could always count on her.
A small, spry little thing, she had the courage of a bantam rooster when you fired her ire. She could stand up to anyone, but always did it respectfully, and was loved and respected in turn.
Grace gave me two specific pearls of wisdom and a salsa recipe that have remained with me for 30 years. The recipe came pasted inside a birthday card that shows a lion and lioness lolling in the grass. Inside, the card says “Just a couple of lions to wish you a happy birthday. From the other Leo, Gracie.
“Everyone needs an editor,” she claimed, and she was right. Writers are too personally involved to know how their words are understood. Editors are the best listeners around.
Grace also told me her secret to enduring personal and professional success, although she may not have known how profound it was. “Whenever I think I’ve offended someone in an article or editorial,” she told me, “I speak to them first, the next time we meet.” Gracie was not one to burn bridges, close doors, or allow misunderstandings to stand. She was always willing to hear the other side, to listen with an ear to understanding, if not agreeing, and a joie de vivre that brought smiles to everyone she knew.
– Katharine C. Otto