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Writing Miss Daisy

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By Daisy Hutzell Rodman

In early January 2006 I dropped by the desk of my friend and editor Howard K. Marcus as he shoved on his jacket. “I’m late for a meeting at the Press Club!” he exclaimed.

“You belong to the Omaha Press Club?” I asked. “I’ve wanted to join for years.”

This was true. In late fall 1998, Wade and I sat in bar chatting with the people around us.

“Where do you work?” I asked someone.

“The Omaha Press Club.” He replied. “Honey, it’s the place to be!”

The OPC remained in the back of my mind. I thought it was out of my league.

That day in 2006, Howard found a form on his desk and said, “Here, fill this out, name me as a reference. You’re in.”

“What?” I asked, dazed.

Howard said, “I gotta go.”

I was accepted late that month. Howard said, “You need to join the Communications Committee.”

I followed Howard to the meeting. When the bills arrived, the server bypassed me.

I asked about my bill, and then-OPC-president Jim Fogarty, panelist on KETV’s "Kaleidoscope," nodded at me knowingly.

“You’ll be back,” he said.

I wrote two small articles for the newsletter. That fall I became busier.

“I’m sorry, but I can not run Excellence in Journalism any more,” said a woman near my age, Bridget (Weide) Brooks.

“I would be willing to be a co-chair,” I said quietly.

Susan Eustice of the Salvation Army found a co-chair, and I set up a meeting, at which the aforementioned co-chair said he couldn’t help, bringing Bridget back on board. We ran the Excellence in Journalism program for five years, during which time Judy Horan, first woman in Omaha media management, added a Hall of Fame to the banquet. About 200 people now attend this annual event.

In summer 2010, then-OPC-president Wendy Townley called me. Wendy was the host of “Wendy About Townley” radio program, and, in general, Omaha’s “it girl.”

That day she asked if I would care to join the OPC Board of Directors.

Bridget, who joined the board in Jan. 2010, became the 2012 president-elect under Susan. She asked me to be the 2013 president-elect under her.

Bridget and I served as greeters on Nov. 22. The cocktails flowed past the designated time, so at 6:25, Bridget said, “Daisy, can you give the introduction? I’m not able to stay.”

Of course I helped. I felt terrible that my friend and partner could not stand in the limelight at the biggest event of her presidential year - the roast of filmmaker Alexander Payne. Actor Will Forte was the premier roaster. Among the 250 in attendance were Rob McCartney, Carol Schrader, Allen Beerman … all people I call colleagues.

“Daisy! Congratulations on next year,” Carol said when she saw me.

“Thanks, but I still have to be voted in,” I replied.

“Pshaw. No problem,” Carol said. “You’ll be a great president.”

I stood at the podium to speak that night and wondered … how on Earth did I get here?