HELP HONOR A GUILD TREASURE
Dear Guild friends.
A little more than three years ago we lost an unparalleled newsroom force and dedicated Guild member when a health emergency took the life of Kathy Hacker, someone who had seemed unconquerable.
To be edited by her was not for the weak. She was demanding, exacting and known to do wholesale rewrites, often in tiny handwriting on a legal pad. It was not a power trip. It was a lesson in what potential existed deep within all of us, potential she was willing to spend the time (often well into the night or early in the morning) coaxing out for no personal glory. After all, it was the names of reporters, not Kathy’s, that would appear on the work that she without exception improved.
“For her, every significant story was an uncut gem, and every facet she carved merited attention and polish,” said Inquirer editor Gabe Escobar, who, upon Kathy’s death, called her “one of the most talented editors I have ever seen.”
She was also one of the most generous and caring friends.
In her personal life, she showed the same tireless dedication, most significantly to her family. Which brings me to a person and a mission I’m humbly asking you all to support to whatever extent you can.
If you worked in the same newsroom as Kathy, you undoubtedly would hear on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day, these words before she would end a phone call: “I love you.” They were directed at her sister, Sue, or Suzy as Kathy called her. The two were as tight as a typical daily Inquirer B section. Sue Fisher’s grief hurts my heart to think about. But she is channeling it in a remarkable display of generosity, turning loss into gains for others.
A retired schoolteacher, Sue is now (among other things) serving as president of Ephrata Cloister Associates, a nonprofit helping to preserve a unique historical site in the central Pennsylvania town where she and Kathy grew up, the Ephrata Cloister. A young Kathy is the bonneted lass third from the left in this picture, serving as a volunteer guide at this place so treasured by generations of her family.
At the Cloister, which is administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, is a weathered hillside amphitheater built in 1963 that Sue’s organization in 2020 began considering for revitalization. In 2021, Sue had a conversation with Kathy about her passion for the project and her concern about raising the funds needed for it. Her big sister encouraged her to press on, giving her the same encouragement Kathy showed to so many of us who worked for her. A few days later, Kathy died. Today, Sue, to honor her beloved sister, is getting ever closer to raising the money needed for the $350,000 project, on track to break ground by summer.
Kathy’s name will appear on top of a Donor Recognition Wall of Honor.
When I asked Sue why Kathy would love this project, she said, “Because she loved me. She believed in me, and having her support gave me the confidence to push on and plan.”
For more information on the project and how to donate to it, please visit https://ephratacloister.org, where you can watch a video narrated by Broadway, TV and movie star Jonathan Groff. (Sue happened to direct him in school plays at Conestoga Valley Middle School.)
Thanks for your consideration.