Wednesday, October 27, 2021

She's lived a life worthy of headlines

| September 29, 2021 1:00 AM

There’s still a little room left on the Anita Johnson bandwagon.

Press reporter Elli Goldman Hilbert hopped on, and we don’t blame her a bit.

Elli wrote about Johnson in The Press after Anita was named one of 15 top newspaper people over 50 in the entire country by Editor & Publisher magazine. Johnson qualified in every way imaginable, not the least because she’s 92 and still working at The Eugene (Ore.) Weekly, where she’s publisher and co-owner.

Why was she the subject of a front-page story in the local paper? Because this is where she got her journalistic start — back in 1946. And now, 75 years later, Johnson was serving as something of an inspiration to Elli, who got her start in journalism all of four months ago.

Johnson’s been inspirational most of her life. According to Cecil Hathaway, a classmate of Johnson’s at Coeur d’Alene High School, “Anita May (Holmes) Johnson was a sparkling member of our class and the Student Body President (an overlooked credential).”

There’s a lot to admire about Anita May Holmes Johnson, even outside the journalism realm, where her paper devotes time, energy and money to creating outstanding obituaries for homeless residents whose lives otherwise would pass without any acknowledgment.

Who among us isn’t moved by the idea that we could still incorporate work — real purpose — into our lives some 25 years after most people fade away into retirement?

Who wouldn’t aspire to hang onto the mental acumen to write well at Johnson’s age, to engage in a lively, enjoyable and thought-provoking conversation with a rookie reporter?

Who among us legions of local transplants don’t wish we had been lucky enough to grow up in Coeur d’Alene and never, ever lose sight of that foundational beginning to our lifelong adventures?

The late, great Louise Shadduck once took young Anita May under her mighty wing at the CDA Press, which no doubt helped shape the path for a successful career. It’s fun to just imagine how many similar paths Johnson shaped for others — and still does today.