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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bev McKim heads west: Saratogian's loss is Buffalo's gain

Bev and Barb in the newroom

Co-worker Louise Kilbara cornered me at the cafeteria microwave Tuesday while editor Beverly McKim was eating her Hungry Spot salad.
“Who’s going to be your cleaning lady,” Louise asked me, smiling at Bev.
What she really should have asked is: Who is going to look after Barb at work now that Beverly is leaving The Saratogian?
That has been a foremost question in my mind since Bev informed me that her five-year plan to return to her roots in Buffalo, now in about its 15th year, was kicking in, for real.
Bev, whose last day at work is Sept. 20, is known around The Saratogian for handling a lot of things over the last 25 years.
Most recently, she has been part-time editor of our publication distributed in the Wilton-Gansevoort area, WG Life (winning a state Associated Press award as special interest weekly, as well as a national headline award for “Taking a Whack at Lizzie’s Legend”); editor of various elements of The Saratogian; the go-to newsroom person on IT issues when the IT guy isn’t around (and sometimes when he is); the person who collects and ships the newspaper to be microfilmed; and the person who keeps the newsroom supply drawers stocked with proof-reader copy paper, toner, gel-tipped pens and notebooks (three sizes and types — the narrow pocket-size style for most reporters, legal pads for Paul Post, and spiral pads for me).  
Finding the perfect spiral pads is just one of many things Bev does for me.
When a coffee cup convention has clustered in the corner of my desk, I’ll come in one morning to find them magically washed, dried and back on their shelf. When my entire desk (except for the space reserved for coffee cups) is covered with paper, Bev (who can’t stand the clutter) will force me to manage the mess — volunteering to deal with and dispose of as much as she can herself. She will remind me when I’ve been oblivious to newsroom people and things that I ought to be mindful of. She laughs and shrugs when she asks whether I like her new glasses (after wearing them for two weeks without a peep from me), and I respond, “You wear glasses?” 
It isn’t just me she has looked after. Over the years she has had a huge hand in Saratogian get-togethers, holiday decorations and gifts to workers celebrating employment milestone. The cafeteria refrigerator might still contain my yogurt from 1987 had she not regularly initiated a clean and dump.
When Bev sets her mind to do something, she does it. Fast. While her initial five-year relocation plan was sidetracked, it was never derailed. So when the plan was again set in motion, Bev’s Wilton house was sold, a new one was purchased in Buffalo, a moving company was hired, and boxes were packed — all in the time it took me to do a load of laundry and lug the basket upstairs with plans to match the socks very soon.
And she did all this while searching for silver shoes to wear to her son Bryon’s wedding on Sept. 29, by which time she will already be out of her Wilton home and her furnishings en route to Buffalo, closer to her roots, her son Dale III and her two grandsons, Patrick and Thomas.
I may not notice when Bev (or anyone else) gets new glasses, but I can tell you how long Bev’s been at The Saratogian, because she started when I was pregnant with my first son, who is now 25 years old. She called to complain about something her nonprofit group was having trouble getting into the paper. She could handle that job better than whomever was doing it at the time, she assured me, having done it in her previous locale.
“Oh yeah,” I replied, or something to that effect.
The rest is history.
In the realm of organization and neatness, Bev and I are yin and yang. But on matters that matter, we are not so different. We’re the same age, and we both have two sons. Over our time at together at The Saratogian, we’ve survived countless transitions and turnover. We’ve lost our mothers. We’ve experienced much pleasure and occasional angst raising our kids (and I’ve gotten a peek through her at the sheer joy of grandparenthood).
I need to tell Louise that Bev has been much, much more than a “cleaning lady,” more than a professional organizer, more than a colleague. She’s been a friend, and for that alone, she will be missed.


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