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Yes, Joan Burney had a way with words, and people, too

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A Closer Look

My first day at the Cedar County News, and this little lady bursts through my door — on deadline — with an ear-to-ear smile, followed by an infectious laugh, and a full on, heart-felt hug. It was a little overwhelming for the 30-year-old kid that I was back then. Yes, it was easy to see Joan Burney was the type of person who wrapped her arms around life and lived it to the fullest. Her ever-constant hugs were a testament to that. I’m in desperate need of one of those combination hug-laughs, now. In my 40-some years in the newspaper business, column writing has always been one of the little joys in my life. This is a tough one, though. Joan has been a fixture in this community and in this state for many years. She helped promote causes near and dear to her heart and helped at least one young editor find his way in a strange new town. Her writing debut came in 1968 when she was asked to assist friend Vern Borer, then editor of the Cedar County News. He wanted a week off from his column. so he coaxed Joan into writing. She continued to write sporadically for awhile, but she soon began turning in a weekly column and the rest is history. It didn’t take long for other editors to recognize her talent. Her column has appeared in several weekly newspapers and three daily newspapers over the years. Her column was a very popular fixture in the Cedar County News. It occupied a prominent place on our editorial page for years. And that’s why it was such a sad day when Joan broke the news to me, that she had decided to retire from writing. We were fortunate to have such a talented writer and communicator on our staff for so many years. Her uplifting commentary was always one of the most read pieces in this newspaper. That bubbly little ball of energy that was Joan Burney was one of those people who just makes you feel good when she enters the room. She was also a much-needed friend and mentor to Peggy and me over the years. As time passed, we grew closer and I gained an even greater sense of appreciation for the woman that was able to put anyone at ease with just a few words and a wave of her hand. I even got to the point, where I stopped cringing as she smothered me in one of her famous hugs. As I said, she had a unique way of putting a person at ease. Thank you for that Joanie. And thank you for your smile, your sense of humor, your support and friendship, and most of all, for all of your years of wit and wisdom, and for sharing it with so many people.