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Monday, June 6, 2016

REMEMBERING MARTY

Journalists and friends weigh in on loss of one of their own

Marty_new

Journalists and friends weigh in on loss of one of their own

An impressive number of family, friends, colleagues and officials – some elected and some appointed – gathered at 10 a.m. May 27 to say goodbye to Marty Carlson.

My husband, Pat, used to call her “the most powerful woman in Bossier.” Marty would laugh, as it was said in jest. Sort of. Marty’s ability to get to the bottom of an issue was legendary.

She was powerful in her quiet way, tenacious as a terrier with a bone.

Pat and I first met Marty when we worked at the Bossier Press Tribune in the late 1990s.

Outspoken Republican James Q. Wellborn called Pat, who was editor, and told him he knew a lady who wanted to write columns for the paper. They met, and Pat saw something in Marty that he knew would make her the type of writer who was opinionated, but only once she had all sides of the story.

Although an English major, Marty used to say Pat taught her to write. “I just told her to write as if she were having a conversation,” he said.

And she took it one step further, telling me I was the person she wanted to write most like. I was flattered, to say the least.

But I write news stories and features.

She didn’t mince words, by mouth or by pen and held councilpersons, police jurors, judges and lawyers accountable for their every move.

Those are easy. Marty’s passion was politics, and her goal was to hold feet to the fire. “I told Marty that if I screwed up, she was to report that I screwed up,” former Bossier City Councilman David Jones said. “And she did!” She didn’t mince words, by mouth or by pen and held councilpersons, police jurors, judges and lawyers accountable for their every move.

Political columnist and Democrat Lou Gehrig Burnett recalls Wellborn introducing them after Burnett was on a local political talk radio show. “Marty called Wellborn and wanted to know, ‘Who the hell was that guy?!’” Burnett said. While their political differences were apparent, it only made for lively conversation and a mutual respect.

Marty wasn’t afraid to say what she thought and to put it in writing.

Burnett, Wellborn and Marty started what morphed from the Breakfast Club to the Lunch Bunch, which continued even after Wellborn’s death several years ago. It was a gathering of political officials where news media-types could ask them about anything. Everything was off the record.

We weren’t allowed to quote, but it was a great venue for story ideas. I seldom was able to attend Lunch Bunch, but Pat rarely missed. I always knew when he had been relentlessly teasing Marty because the next time I showed up, in all of her sarcasm, she would say to Pat, “Oh, good. You brought your handler with you today.”

I so admired Marty’s ability to write columns, to research, to get the story and the truth. I admired her dry wit and sarcasm.

We shared good food and lively discussion about everything from politics to grandchildren over a few bottles of Fat Bastard Shiraz. I aspired to be like her.

Marty Carlson was a rare jewel, a good friend and comrade.

During Friday’s memorial service, Marty’s friends and family shared her gift of encouragement. I was privileged to that side of her when she called me out of the blue recently with a job idea … a position she felt would be good for me and I for it. I was surprised and pleased she had thought of me. We met for lunch to talk about it, and that was the last time I saw her.

It is sad that a stroke would impair the woman with such a sharp brain and wit to match. Would she have wanted to live that way? With no way to communicate when that had been her whole life … or at least the last 20-plus years I had known her? I think not. Sadly, another stroke took away that choice.

I was going to visit her in the hospital, but I kept putting it off. I will have to live with that regret for the rest of my life.

As someone said during her service, if there are politicians in heaven, they should look out. By now, Marty and Wellborn have teamed to take them to task.

As Linda Ronstadt (whose politics I abhor but whose music I adore) wrote in one of her songs:

Oh, we never know where life will take us; I know it’s just a ride on the wheel.

And we never know when death will shake us; and we wonder how it will feel.

Goodbye, my friend. Someday I’ll see you again.

But the love you gave me through all the years will take away these tears.

It’s OK now …. Goodbye, my friend.

You can go now … Goodbye, my friend.

– Bonnie Culverhouse

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