A family reunites: Gazette reunion draws 200 people spread across 5 decades

  • Gazette photographer Sarah Crosby videotapes Gazette alumni as they tour the pressroom. STEVE MEASE

  • Former Gazette staffers Barbara LeBlanc, left, Maureen Fitzgerald and Bob Unger watch a video made about the Gazette in the mid-1980s. STEVE MEASE

  • Opinion editor Stan Moulton gives some facts about the press during at tour at the Gazette. STEVE MEASE

  • Nearly 200 past and current Gazette staff and their partners and children gathered first at the Gazette in Northampton and then at Nonotuck Park in Easthampton for a reunion which included people who worked at the Gazette from the 1970s until now. STEVE MEASE

  • Reuniongoers look over the display of past newspapers exhibited in the Gazette conference room. STEVE MEASE

  • Nearly 200 past and current Gazette staff and their partners and children gathered first at the Gazette in Northampton and then at Nonotuck Park in Easthampton for a reunion which included people who worked at the Gazette from the 1970s until now. STEVE MEASE

  • Opinion editor, who started working at the Gazette in 1976, hands the microphone over to former editor Edward Shanahan, who led the newsroom from 1971 to 1986. STEVE MEASE

  • Former Gazette editor Jim Foudy talks with former Gazette reporter Alice Dembner. STEVE MEASE

  • The Gazette was formerly owned by the DeRose family. From left, Pete DeRose, Charles DeRose, Kelly DeRose, Florence DeRose and Elizabeth DeRose. STEVE MEASE

  • Pete and Charles DeRose, former owners and publishers of the Gazette. Their grandmother was the first generation of her family to publish the newspaper beginning in 1929. The newspaper is now owned by Newspapers of New England, a private company in New Hampshire. STEVE MEASE

  • Opinion editor Stan Moulton, left, former reporter Debra Bradley Ruder and former editor Jim Foudy were members of the organizing committee. STEVE MEASE

  • Former editor Edward Shanahan shares a few memories with reuniongoers at Nonotuck Park. STEVE MEASE

  • Retired photographer Gordon Daniels, who worked for more than four decades at the Gazette, shares a few memories. STEVE MEASE

@BeraDunau
Published: 7/2/2018 10:45:42 PM

NORTHAMPTON — They came from as far away as California and as close as Easthampton. Some started working at the newspaper in the early 1970s, while others began their careers there just last month.

Yet the nearly 200 people who showed up in Nonotuck Park in Easthampton on Saturday were united by one thing: a love for community journalism, and the Daily Hampshire Gazette in particular.

“It was really rewarding,” said Debra Bradley Ruder, one of the organizers of a Gazette reunion for the first time in 32 years. “It definitely exceeded our expectations.”

Ruder worked at the Gazette as a reporter from 1981 to 1985. Along with Stanley Moulton, the current opinion editor who started working full time at the Gazette in 1976, and Colleen Fitzpatrick, who worked as a reporter from 1981 to 1984, Ruder began discussing holding a reunion in 2013.

“And then nothing happened,” she said, noting that everyone got busy with other things.

The reunion idea would not die, however, and in the fall of 2017 the three organized a committee which grew to 15 members to plan the event.

The last Gazette reunion was in 1986.

Ruder said that she and the other organizers would have been happy if 100 people showed up. Instead, about 190 employees, former staffers and their partners and children came to the party, which consisted of  a reception at the Gazette followed by a picnic at Nonotuck Park.

“It was an incredible gathering,” said  Debra Scherban, who has worked at the Gazette since 1975 and is its current interim editor. 

“We had newsroom staffers from five decades,” Moulton said.

Edward Shanahan, who was editor of the paper from 1971 to 1986, was there as well as former top editors Jim Foudy and Larry Parnass as well as former publishers Charles and Peter DeRose, whose grandmother was the first generation of her family to publish the newspaper beginning in 1929.

The Gazette is now owned by Newspapers of New England, a private company based in New Hampshire.

Moulton said that he was pleased to see representation from all departments at the reunion.

“It was like going back in time,” said Gazette maintenance supervisor Robert Diemand, noting that although people have gotten older, personalities have not changed. Diemand has worked at the Gazette since 1972.

The reception included a display of 50 years of the Gazette’s coverage, and the picnic featured a barbecue spread.

“It was spectacular,” Ruder said. “I’m thrilled with how the reunion went.”

In particular, she pointed to the open-mike segment at the end of the picnic in which people described their appreciation for community journalism and how the Gazette had affected their lives. “It was very moving to hear what people had to say,” she said.

Scherban also expressed appreciation for hearing people reminisce about their time at the Gazette. “They never forgot their roots here,” she said.

Scherban said that during a time when newspapers and journalists are facing increasing difficulties, it was heartening to hear people talk about their strong connection to the journalistic effort, even if they have gone on to other fields.

“They still feel such a strong passion for that,” she said.

As for why he’s continued working at the Gazette for all these years, Diemand cited the family-feel of the paper. This was also how Fitzpatrick described those who have worked at the Gazette.

“It’s like a family,” she said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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