By Clay Barbour
Is it possible to be everywhere, and yet nowhere? To be the face of something and still, somehow, invisible in so many ways? This was the question I asked myself recently as I worked my way through a task that was more than a little bittersweet.
In the middle of putting this issue together – our last of the year – I was informed that our publisher, Kelly Till, had accepted another job and was leaving the company. Well, I was informed by Kelly while I was driving, at which time I informed the rest of the cars on Brambleton Avenue (by screaming a series of poetic expletives out the window).
For almost six years, Kelly has been my boss and mentor; the calm, steady voice that prevents panic, the smiling leader who pushes you consistently but rarely puts a finger on the scale. That is a tough balance to maintain and she always did it with grace, humor and courage.
This has been a very good year for our team in terms of recognition. All together, Distinction brought home 22 state and national awards, our best haul ever. The magazine was a features design finalist in the City and Regional Magazine Association contest. It was named best magazine in its division by the Society for Features Journalism for the third time in four years. And most recently, Distinction won 19 Virginia Press Association awards, including 10 first place and four Best in Show.
You don’t accomplish feats like that without the foundation provided by someone like Kelly. She protected us, encouraged us, and held our feet to the fire. Thing is, she never took credit for any of it. She fielded the complaints and directed the compliments toward us.
And unlike some publishers, who insist on having their glossy photo in the front of the magazine, Kelly limited her exposure to occasional appearances in Being Social and Bar School.
Which created the problem I was working through this week – finding a photo good enough to use in the Parting Shot. See, the last page of this magazine is typically where we say goodbye to one of our colleagues. It is the perfect forum for us to be poetic and sappy.
But the lack of high-end professional photos of her means that honor now falls to this page. So, instead of being poetic and metaphorical, I will just be honest: We will miss Kelly, badly. All future bosses will be judged against her. But even in the bitter, there is the sweet. Her mark on this magazine will live on, as will the mark she made on our lives.
Thank you, Kelly.