Today’s a day for settling unfinished business from 2013. My family took a vacation in March, and work followed in a terrible way. My boss’ texts informed us of Judy Putt’s sudden illness and death.
She spent more than 36 years as a Mighty Daily Journal copy editor. Her loss made for a surreal vacation because we had our fun – Judy wouldn’t have wanted otherwise – but our thoughts and conversations kept returning to her.
“Judy Putt? I can’t believe she’s gone.”
We regretted missing the funeral and the quiet time our Daily Journal family shared in her honor, but we didn’t brood over it. We were partly inspired by Judy’s do-what-you-can, don’t-do-what-you-can’t attitude.
When we got home, it didn’t seem like the time to write about her. Maybe the moment had passed, or maybe I feared not being able to do her justice.
But the other day I realized I needed to tell you something about Judy.
Her family and friends can give a far more complete picture, but I think she illustrates a crucial part of our work-a-day world.
American business runs on people like Judy, who take ownership of their work, whatever it is.
Her tenacity shouldn’t be sugarcoated. When she believed she was right, she didn’t like to back down. I take some comfort in knowing that I probably frustrated her as much as she frustrated me over the years.
But I also know that her rules and schedules were at the heart of her design and editing skills. Her routines freed up the creativity that arrived on readers’ doorsteps most mornings.
I complimented her work regularly because I genuinely admired her results. In turn, she appreciated my ability to make deadline, and occasionally had good things to say about my writing.
Every few years, decision-makers shake things up a bit. The one constant of the business world is that “Change” will always be its No. 1 buzzword.
Whatever processes the bosses and consultants put in place, Judy eventually made her own, but it wasn’t easy.
“Tell me what to do and I’ll do it,” she said, but the quality of laughter that followed revealed the stress she felt.
The next big idea is the currency of American business. The visionaries and rainmakers are the stars.
And Judy Putt, a wife, friend, sister and so much more, also was the engine that helped make the Daily Journal what it is.
She might’ve been one lottery win away from early retirement, but if she had to work, she was determined to do her best.
The business world has no shortage of strategies and fads. Ultimately, all of them will be judged by how well they let people like Judy do what they were bound to do anyway.
I’m honored to have worked by her side, and still can barely believe she’s gone.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.