Father's legacy burns bright on a memorable night, times 2

More than 15 years since my father passed away I felt his presence on an emotional night last week in Denver, and vicariously, 500 miles away in Lincoln at the same exact moment. The timing, I’m certain, was not coincidental.
I’ve written many times before in this space about the impact my father had on my life and many others. Loral Johnson was a man who lifted people up through the pages of his hometown newspaper, The Imperial Republican, showing by example how you can touch people’s lives with positive words. Three of his children followed in the footsteps of he and my mother, Elna, who worked side by side in building Johnson Publications, Inc.
High on his list of No. 1 fans is my oldest sister, Brenda, whom many of you know here in Aurora. Brenda (Johnson) Brandt spent two years in Aurora back in 1977-79, teaching math and journalism at Aurora High School fresh out of Kearney State College.
She loved it here in Hamilton County and told me many times she might very well have stayed had she not had newspaper ink running so purely through her veins. I distinctly remember her giving our family a tour of the “new” school addition while it was still under construction, having no idea how many games and special events I would later attend in that complex, including our two daughters’ graduations.
When my parents purchased the weekly newspaper in Holyoke, Colorado, Brenda headed to the front range, where she has spent the last 38 years as editor, and eventually as publisher of the Holyoke Enterprise. Her passion in that capacity was recognized at the Colorado Press Association convention where Brenda was honored as Newspaper Person of the Year, in essence a lifetime achievement honor.
I was one proud little brother hearing her described by colleagues as a quintessential country editor who has served her community and state well for nearly four decades. Coincidentally, or not, the former president of the National Newspaper Association recalled during Brenda’s introduction how my parents were the first to make him feel welcome at an NNA event. Newspaper folk were their extended family.
My wife Paula, mother Elna, both siblings and two brothers-in-law flew or drove to Denver to surprise Brenda for the occasion and had a wonderful reunion in her honor.
Ironically, at the exact moment Brenda was being called up on stage in Denver, my niece Brooke (the next generation drawn into the newspaper fold as managing editor in Grant) was on the podium in Lincoln at the Nebraska Press Association convention, introducing this year’s winner of the Loral Johnson Sweepstakes. The award for the top weekly in the state, based on a better newspaper contest point system, is named in my father’s honor, a source of pride for his family and a lasting legacy to his impact on the industry.
As you know by now, the Aurora News-Register was announced as this year’s winner, a tribute to a terrific staff, which covers a vibrant community.
Only one member of our family was able to be in both places at once, and I know he was smiling from ear to ear.

KURT JOHNSON can be reached at kjohnson@ hamilton.net

Rate this article: 
No votes yet