We’ve had a rash of departures from our multiplatform copy desk at The Dallas Morning News this summer, and they’ve all left huge holes in our staff, our institutional knowledge and our hearts. Three people who dedicated a total of over 80 years to the DMN (how mind-staggering is that?) have moved on — two retiring and one for a new job.
The latest is the amazing Nancy Visser, whose last day before heading into retirement was Thursday. In this group photo of the 5 of us on the copy desk who worked in the newsroom (rather than remotely) on her last day, she’s in front in the fuchsia (that’s what I’m calling it) top, along with Allison Stewart at left, Leah Waters at right, John Lose at back right and me.
When our boss, Denise Beeber, sent out the email announcing Nancy’s retirement, her first words were “The multiplatform desk is losing another gem.” So, so true. Nancy is the consummate journalist, meticulous in everything she does, asking every question needed to ensure that stories are accurate and complete. She’s also a hell of a headline writer. In addition to copy editing, her newspaper background includes reporting and working with reporters as their assigning editor, so she’s worked throughout the process of story development and has shined.
Nancy’s been a stalwart in every role she’s filled at the DMN since 1999, starting a few months before I arrived in February 2000. Although I barely knew her, she and I also worked together at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in the late 1980s/early ’90s, when she was a kick-ass young news reporter and I was a features and sports copy editor. When she came to the DMN from the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News, she worked on our national desk. Nancy later worked as an editor on our metro news staff before joining the copy desk as a multiplatform editor about five years ago. She also worked for the Arlington Daily News and The Florida Times-Union.
In recent years, Nancy has also been our go-to trainer for new editors in the copy desk’s complicated operations and workflow, which includes two content management systems — one for digital, where stories are published on dallasnews.com, and one for production of the print newspaper.
From Denise’s announcement: “She can always be counted on to jump in and lend a hand no matter the situation. Her spirit of teamwork extends beyond the desk; she is highly engaged with her community and often passes along news tips.”
Before the pandemic hit, we always had farewell meetings in the newsroom when staffers left for new jobs, complete with ginormous cakes thanks to our amazing administrative assistant Sandra Smith. But since March 2020, they’ve all been by Zoom, and Nancy’s featured an outpouring of love, tears, laughs, memories, accolades, compliments and well wishes as about 45 of us gathered to send her off into retirement. They’re all tough, but it’s also awesome to see our newsroom family come together to share feelings about what the colleague who’s leaving means to us. It’s really pretty beautiful. There’s just no cake on Zoom. 😉
We will always remember the grace, love and steadfast devotion Nancy showed several years ago when her husband, Guy, a longtime DMN photographer/photo editor, was fighting a wicked cancer over a long period while also dealing with another longtime foe, bipolar disorder. And, her strength and courage when, in June 2019, Guy sadly took his life.
Nancy’s son Drew started at UT-Arlington this month. She has a lot of projects in mind, stacks of books to read and activism to pour herself into. Those of us who’ve had the privilege of working with her for so many years at the DMN can’t wait to see all she does in the coming years.
Cheers to you in retirement, Nancy! 🎉🥂