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Another Perspective


Family legacy brings more celebration PDF Print E-mail

Pride and emotion soared Friday night with the announcement of Elna Johnson as Master Editor-Publisher of the Nebraska Press Association.
Respect resonates across the state for this amazing woman who has definitely made an impression. Her character reflects what the prestigious honor recognizes in someone who has worked hard and lived honorably, thought soundly and influenced unselfishly and been active in a variety of ways in the community, state and nation.
Endless compassion for others finds me admiring her values and determination more and more. Although I respect her professionally, my honor is to also know her as my mother.
History was made this year with the honoree being the first woman joining 43 previous male recipients. What a relief that Mom was surprised after a couple months filled with little white lies.    
It wasn’t the first time that I was almost dizzy with excitement at the Master Editor-Publisher announcement as my father earned the honor 14 years ago. How appropriate that the celebration reception honored them as a team even though Dad has been gone 13 years. His legacy definitely lives on.
Dad started his interest at a Colorado newspaper office at nine years old. He took on production responsibility well beyond his years and chose to pursue newspaper life in Imperial after high school. His high school sweetheart and classmate went to business college, joining him after they were married two years later.
They made a remarkable team in all aspects of life. Besides producing quality award-winning newspapers, they opened their hearts and home, making sure that everyone felt welcomed and cared about. They especially reached out to first timers at press conventions, recalling how much they appreciated mentors taking them under their wing in their early years.
I had quite the déja vu moment when my granddaughters sang to their great grandmother after family and special friends moved to the stage to surprise her. Standing nearby was Governor Pete Ricketts who had made the award presentation.
Twenty-one years ago, Governor Ben Nelson sat next to the podium when my daughters sang to their grandma as she turned over the gavel as Nebraska Press Association president. Déja vu!
Legacy does live on. Three of the four Johnson children are in the newspaper business as well as our daughter, the oldest grandchild.
My sister served as the Colorado Press state president when my brother served as Nebraska president. She represents Colorado in the National Newspaper Association and my husband, Russ, and I are the Nebraska co-chairs.
It is with pride that we attend national conventions and are reminded by colleagues across the nation how highly respected our parents are both as successful professionals and extremely kind individuals.
My sincere congratulations to the newest Master Editor-Publisher. You’re an inspiration, Mom!

LORI PANKONIN is co-publisher of Johnson Publications newspapers in Imperial, Wauneta and Grant, and part-owner of the Holyoke Enterprise in Holyoke, Colo. E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it