I’m that happy tired that always come after a fun, interesting, networking Nebraska Press Women convention weekend.

Barb Batie and Jill Claflin hosted us in Lexington for the necessary board and general membership meetings, workshops on leadership and that took us a step farther in our affiliate’s strategic planning journey, good food, and good fun.

We had two high school students from Grand Island attend the lunch to accept first-place awards in the NPW High School Contest, Jill announced the names of our college and high school scholarship winners, and awards were presented to our professional contest winners at the Saturday night banquet at Mac’s Creek Winery.

However, it was the Marian Andersen Nebraska Women Journalists Hall of Fame induction ceremony that truly reflected who we are after 69 years as NPW.

One inductee, Pulitzer Prize nominee Beverly Deepe Keever who was the longest serving Western journalist during the Vietnam War, was presented her award on March 9. She had come home to Hebron from Hawaii for her mother’s 100th birthday, so four NPW members presented her awards there.

A short interview video I shot then was shown at lunch Saturday.

The other inductee was Joan Burney, who was the 1993 NFPW Communicator of Achievement.

She laughed when the highly inept NPW Kazoo Khorale she founded played in her honor.

Kazoo Khorale singing react2

We laughed back during her speech when she summed up our many years together by saying, “You’re all crazy.” Clearly, she knows that knows that some of her spirit has rubbed off on all of us.

Joanie obviously was touched when shown the plaque with her photo and a short description of her many accomplishments as a columnist, author, and humor and inspirational speaker. It will hang on a wall with the other 15 Hall of Fame members – the first six were inducted at the Nebraska luncheon that was part of the 2011 NFPW Conference in Council Bluffs – in the building that houses the University of Nebraska-Lincoln journalism department.

She smiled when handed a Nebraska-shaped engraved plaque to hang on her wall and a photo of mine featuring snow geese flying across a nearly full white moon in a bright blue sky.

Then, our Mary Pat Finn-Hoag had one more surprise. She gave Joan an over sized “Congratulations” card that had handwritten messages from all the NPW members present, plus her two sons and daughters-in-law, and a granddaughter already writing for her school newspaper who came to Lexington to help her celebrate.

Joanie and Mary Pat both wear their hearts on their sleeves, so some tears were shed.

Card, Joan Burney, Mary Pat Finn-Hoag3

Perhaps my favorite moment, the one that summed up who we are and have been to each other over the years, came during the break right after the Hall of Fame presentation.

There was Joanie and longtime member Mary Ann Blackledge of North Platte, both former presidents in the day when they sometimes paid for NPW expenses themselves because the budget was so tight.

It also was a time when women of that generation ahead of us Baby Boomers were overcoming obstacles to be taken seriously in the newsroom, even when they knew they would be paid less than men doing the same work.

And when Joan and my NPW-NFPW recruiter the late Marianne Beel, a Sandhills rancher from Valentine, found their voice as writers after already having rich, full lives as ag producers, mothers and volunteers for almost everything in their communities.

So for a long, amazing moment Saturday, Mary Ann and Joan just looked at each other. I’m not even sure they spoke. They each gave a knowing look of people who had become soul mates simply by coming to NPW conventions for years to be with people who understood them.

Mary Ann Blackledge, Joan Burney1

Technologies and media have changed. Those of us who looked up to these leaders of NPW when we joined as rookie journalists now are the leaders.

Many of us on both the state and national levels feel bad that we can’t see each other more often. However, when we do, we laugh, cry and share those looks of understanding.

It’s who we are.

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