A Tribute To My First Editor

Peter Dyck was the photographer at my wedding in 1973. I believe it was my father’s idea to hire him and Peter did a good job. I think the whole idea of getting married kind of overwhelmed my husband Dave.  I just remember Peter trying to joke around in an attempt to get him to look less serious. “Would the groom please smile?’ Peter kept saying patiently.

     A dozen years later when Peter was already at the helm of The Carillon I sent him an indignant letter to the editor. A columnist had written an article deriding day care. My six- year-old son had spent several happy years at a Steinbach day care while his father and I worked as teachers in local schools. I thought the paper needed to publish an alternate point of view.  Peter not only printed my letter but also asked if I might be interested in writing a regular column for the paper. I agreed to give it a try. That was twenty- seven years ago.

     Peter gave me free rein to write about whatever I wanted in my column which was called  Viewpoint. Sometimes when he didn’t agree with my point of view he would write me a personal letter stating his opinion, but he always still printed my column as I had submitted it.

     I remember the year we moved to the Hopi Indian Reservation in Arizona to teach. I hadn’t planned to keep writing but Peter encouraged me to do so. He said readers would be interested in our experiences. In 2003 when we first moved to Hong Kong to work, he not only encouraged me to keep writing, but also asked me to start submitting photos with my columns.

     Peter gave me my first chance to be a journalist. My experience writing for The Carillon led to all kinds of other writing assignments including a staff job for the magazine The Mennonite Mirror, free-lance work for many religious and educational periodicals, curriculum writing and a three-year stint as a columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press.

     For the last six years of my career as an educator I was a high school journalism teacher. While I was teaching at the Steinbach Regional School Peter graciously agreed to come to my class and let my journalism students interview him. I remember he told the kids the most important quality a journalist could have was insatiable curiosity and he emphasized how important it was to honor your commitments and meet your deadlines.

     Peter and I had a very business-like relationship and our communication was almost always confined to newspaper related matters. However when Peter’s wife Aida died I wrote him a letter of condolence that included a few personal memories of Aida. He wrote back thanking me, and telling me that my husband Dave and I were doing the right thing in traveling the world and having so many adventures. He had hoped he and Aida could have some adventures in their retirement too but now it was too late.

     On Sunday night I had written my Carillon column and was just about to press the SEND button and e-mail it to Peter as I always do, when my husband received a Facebook message from a friend saying Peter had died. I knew I couldn’t send in the column I had written; I would have to write about Peter.

     I am very grateful to Peter for giving me my first journalism job and for allowing me to continue writing for The Carillon for nearly three decades. I want to extend my condolences to his family. Peter was a consummate professional and I will miss working for him. 

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2 Comments

Filed under People, Writing

2 responses to “A Tribute To My First Editor

  1. bill driedger

    nice story ml

  2. I had not heard that Peter had died. So this is a bit of sad news for me. Always enjoyed him. Always respected him.

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