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Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Farewell to a legend

 

By Gerald Ford

[email protected]

On Friday Andrew Wyatt, former editor of the Wairarapa Times-Age, died.

My first editor, Andrew was a great boss. He led the paper from 1983 to 2003.

In a daily newspaper there has always been something of a mystique about the editor role – and that was even more true in those days. One of his charges insisted on calling Andrew, “God”, much to his embarrassment.

While it was a reference to the authority of position, it also kind of fit on a personal level – if your picture of God is a highly intelligent, somewhat distant figure with a mop of grey hair.

Andrew helped this mystique by being such a quiet person. He spoke quietly and was intensely focused, especially as the deadline of midday approached, back when we printed locally and were an afternoon newspaper.

He was, however, well involved with every aspect of the editorial department and had a sharp sense of humour.

My first interaction with the Editor (my impressionable memory insists on a capital letter here) was when I was proofreading a piece of paper with red pen on it.

Back then that’s how it was done.

National and international stories were noisily printed automatically on computer paper straight from the wire, or directly by the reporters – and the subeditors scribbled on them. Then they came through to us in the production space where the typesetters made the changes and we proofreaders checked them.

On this day I was confused by the writing on the piece of paper and Steve Trotman, who supervised me, suggested, “Why don’t you ask Andrew? He’s right there, he subbed it.”

“I remember thinking, ‘That can’t be right, it’s in red. Only the editor uses red pen’.”

But I went ahead and Andrew looked at his work and my suggested correction and said, “No, you’re right.” I think he may have asked my name and said something kind of welcoming.

After I sat down, Steve told me “that was the editor” – and I was suitably mortified at myself.

But that was the kind of guy he was. He was humble and whether in the community or in the workplace he was more interested in getting things right than in rank or position, even his own.

Andrew was a phenomenal talent. He will be remembered fondly and with genuine affection by those who knew him.

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