Letters to the Editor

Muriel Williams: Vaya con dios, old friend

Dear Ed.,

I’ve lost count of how many times the mail would come in at the North Kitsap Herald, and I’d open familiar, type-written envelopes to read those words from Muriel Williams. The letters would also be done on an old-fashioned type writer, more often than not, they were brief and to the point. But the point was always, always made.

If she agreed with an editorial or article, the envelope and letter might be adorned with stickers (cats usually). If not, no stickers. Just a few lines of terse, immaculately chosen words. Muriel was like that. She could be sweet as fresh krumkake or cold as a Norwegian winter’s night.

I met her as a young reporter and sat through way too many city council meetings with her. Way too many. Her attendance was practically a given, and was expected to the point that when she wasn’t there, someone would ask, “Where’s Muriel tonight?”

On occasion she would approach the podium, adjust the microphone down about 8-10 inches, introduce herself … “My name is Muriel Williams, and I live in this city…” and share her opinion on the topic of the day. The opinions varied, but the introduction never did. The words stuck with me because they carried weight, and seemed to be Muriel’s understated way of saying, “You know who I am. I live here and pay your salaries, so listen up…”

And everyone always did.

Muriel taught me a lot about journalism, mainly that the media isn’t and should never be the only watchdog out there. It’s the role of good citizens, their duty even, to stay apprised of what’s going on around them in their cities and counties, and speak up when they feel things are wrong or unjust.

Muriel did just this.

We didn’t always see eye-to-eye on the issues at hand or the people making headlines, but there was always a mutual respect for one another’s views. That said, I’m certain I sought her approval more than she ever sought mine – or anyone’s for that matter. She was who she was, and didn’t make excuses for that. She never had to.

Muriel would no doubt, tell me at this point, “Cut to the chase, sweetie” So I’ll do just that.

Poulsbo is a better place because of her, and we’re all better people for knowing her.

Vaya con dios, my old friend.

Joe Irwin

North Kitsap Herald

Reporter and Editor

From 1997-2007

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