Marlo made a difference in newsroom

October 10, 2009|By JOHN LEAGUE

I would bet that Marlo Barnhart has had her name published in The Herald-Mail more times over the past 40 years than anyone.

As a reporter, her familiar byline has chronicled the news and the people of our community for four decades.

And while she'll continue to write occasional features for The Herald-Mail, her full-time career came to an end last Thursday, when she retired from The Herald-Mail at the age of 62.

Marlo spent her entire career with the same newspaper company, and her entire career as a reporter. In this day and age, that's unheard of.

The late George Rash was the editor of The Daily Mail when Marlo was hired on Aug. 11, 1969. The Herald-Mail published two papers then, The Mail in the afternoon and The Morning Herald.


In those days, the two newsrooms shared the same space, but competed feverishly for stories. Staffs were cordial, but not friendly. It was great fun in a way perhaps only a newspaper person can understand.

For us old-timers, the allegiances die hard, if ever. Marlo, no doubt, loved the consolidated Herald-Mail newsroom, but her heart was always first and foremost with The Mail, which ceased publication in 2007. She is one of the last of the tried and true Daily Mailers.

She said retired former Daily Mail Editor Dennis Shaw had the greatest impact on her career. And that the late Franca Lewis, another longtime Daily Mail reporter, was the best reporter she had worked with.

Marlo was not about "in depth," she was about "right now." Give her a story, and she'd turn it around as quickly as anyone by working the phones and her sources, and by relying on her experience and her instincts.

She probably has as much institutional knowledge about all things Hagerstown and Washington County as anyone in the county. She was an unofficial mentor to many a new reporter and editor.

As a cops and court reporter for years, she's seen just about everything, often the worst side of the human condition.

Yet, her sensitively written Sunday feature, "A Life Remembered," is what she considers her best work. And it has become one of the more popular features in The Herald-Mail. (She will continue to write the feature for us.)

What will she miss about her job?

"All the people I've met and built lasting relationships with over the years."

And what won't you miss?

"The daily grind."

Marlo now will have the time to write the stories she wants to write, spend time with her grandchildren and, in her own words, "actually volunteer with an agency ... not just write about them."

About her career choices, she said: "From the time I was in my early years, I wanted to write for a living. We all know how many starving writers and artists there are in this world, so I'm grateful The Herald-Mail gave me the opportunity to follow my dream while earning enough to support myself, my two children to adulthood, buy and pay off a house.

"I've been fortunate in some measure. I may have made a difference in some of the lives I've encountered."

Indeed, Marlo, you have.

We thank you for 40 years of outstanding service.

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

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