Until They’re Gone

There’s no better teacher than history, and one sad but true fact of a linear existence is that we often don’t realize what we have in a moment until it has passed and we have the benefit of a longer lens.
Another example of that presented itself as we said goodbye to Freda Tarbell, who lost a valiant three year battle against cancer this week.
If you are from around here, you probably heard of Freda. She started in radio in Buffalo but returned to Erie County to work for WSEE-TV as a reporter and anchor. She would later work behind the scenes as an assignment editor for WICU TV12.
Freda had a tremendous radio voice and a genuine interest not only in the news but more particularly how those events impacted people and their families.
She could do any story assigned to her but loved environmental stories the most, which in her time included covering the efforts to make Presque Isle Bay swimmable and the shoreline developable.
So it seemed like the perfect job when Freda finally left the business to do community and media relations for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources.
Freda, along with colleague Carol Pella, helped form a new breed of female reporters here. They weren’t interested in being weather “bunnies” or eye candy on the anchor desk.
These were tough, smart women who earned their chops on the street.
I think it was particularly grueling yet satisfying for both of them that they came up through the glass walls and ceiling of the good ole boys’ network that still existed in newsrooms in the 1970’s.
Will Ferrell has mined comic gold making fun of that era through his Anchorman movies, but if you were a young woman growing up through it, I can’t imagine it being all that funny.
But by the end of the decade when a cub reporter like Yours Truly got started, there was no sense of historical importance among the staff.
We just went to work and there was Carol and there was Freda. I mean, didn’t every newsroom have people of that talent and depth?
It’s not until the time and sadly, even the people have passed that history teaches us what milestone moments they really were.
How often we don’t know what we have, until they’re gone.

3 thoughts on “Until They’re Gone

  1. Emily (Green) Morris

    Hi, Scott. Thanks for this post. I never worked with them directly, but share your perspectives. Nicely said.

  2. Rory Mahoney

    Thank You Scott, just learned today of Freda’s passing. Condolences to Her family, She was a special person.
    Rory Mahoney
    Hou. Tx.


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