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Kate's spirit, determination are inspiring

August 20, 2006|by JOHN LEAGUE

I have been blessed with so many things in my life.

I've got a great wife and great kids. I've got a dream job working for one of the newspaper industry's best companies, Schurz Communications. I have had two excellent mentors as bosses during the past 11 years, and the employees at The Herald-Mail are as good as any in the Tri-State area.

I've got good, loyal friends. I've been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things. I love getting out of bed each day to go to work. And I am in excellent health.

I'm taking stock because, as I write this, I just finished rereading Kate Coleman's column, which ran Sunday, Aug. 6, in The Herald-Mail's Lifestyle section.

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Kate is one of the more extraordinary journalists and people I've worked with. She is not one of the people who leads by talking; she is a leader by doing, though she would never see herself as a leader, I bet.

Like many who gravitate to this business, Kate loves to write, and that passion led her to The Herald-Mail. She is smart and determined, and she became a full-fledged reporter, with a detour briefly through our marketing department.

She did this while making the challenging transition from a wife and mother to a single parent raising two children.

While a full-time staff member, Kate often became the unofficial mother/aunt/big sister to some of our younger staff members. She never had a bad word to say about anyone, whether it was a co-worker or news source, and never complained about the hand she was dealt in life, even when the deck occasionally seemed stacked against her.

Kate was diagnosed with MS several years before she left The Herald-Mail. Many of us watched her deal with the ups and downs of the illness. There was no whining or complaining, and never any self-pity. She just bit her lip, made whatever adjustments were necessary and went on about things.

When she announced her resignation several years ago, as MS continually zapped her of the energy to do the job full time, it was a sad day at the newspaper. Fortunately, she agreed to continue to cover the Maryland Symphony, one of her passions, and a job she did with excellence and enthusiasm. We could keep her in the fold, at least occasionally.

Kate can't do as much as she could several years ago. MS continues to zap her strength, coordination and energy. But she continues to make whatever adjustments are necessary, and move ahead with her life, looking for as much goodness as she can, and living each day with all the gusto she can muster.

Kate recounted her struggle in that Aug. 6 column. She recalled how folks react when they ask about her illness.

"Typically, people feel bad that they've asked and they feel bad that I have it," Kate wrote, "Then I feel bad and that's not good - since being nice, not making people uncomfortable, is perhaps the primary operating principle of my life."

That is writing from the heart. And in Kate's case, it's right on the money.

With quiet determination, Kate will continue to fight MS. She'll continue to make adjustments, and she'll continue to move ahead, with great class, courage and dignity.

I hope that fight continues for a long time, and that we continue to see her byline in The Herald-Mail newspapers.

John League is editor and publisher of The Herald-Mail. He may be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7073, or by e-mail at jleague@herald-mail.com.

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