Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Longtime journalist in rural Nevada, known as 'Grandma with Attitude,' dies at 71

Anne Pershing
Most rural communities are blessed with a handful of treasured citizens, people "who labor in obscurity except in their hometowns, where they are key pieces of the civic infrastructure," said Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which publishes The Rural Blog. One of those people was Anne Pershing, who did community journalism for 33 years in Fallon, Nev., and was known in more recent years as "Grandma with Attitude" for her columns championing the rights of senior citizens, Marcella Corona reports for the Reno Gazette-Journal, which published the columns. Pershing died on Thursday at 71.

Pershing "was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Public Service for her work on a series on child leukemia in Fallon from 1999 to 2002," Corona writes. "She was also awarded the Associated Press Public Service award in 2001. Pershing was also the president of the Nevada Press Association board from 1993 to 1994. She served on the board for 13 years and earned the NPA President’s Award in 1999. She was inducted into the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2009."

NPA Executive Director Barry Smith told Corona, "She had that relationship with Fallon, as somebody who knew everybody in town. She was willing to stand by them if they were willing to stand up for themselves." Smith said Pershing was proud "of covering gay and lesbian issues 'in a small, conservative town long before they became an accepted cause.'" He told Corona, "She was a mom and a grandma to her own family, of course, but also to anybody she cared about—and that was a lot of people, from wayward kids to governors. Anne told them what they needed to hear, whether it was a mild scolding or a word of encouragement. And either way, she probably followed it up with a plateful of fudge."

In her final column, which appeared on Sunday, Pershing wrote about Mother's Day. She wrote: "Mother's Day is Sunday, May 8, which means the phone lines will be on fire all around the country with people calling to pay homage to Mom. And for those of us who have lost our mothers, we will quietly pay our respects and embrace the memories of our beloved mothers, each in his or her own way."

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