A Loss in the Family


The voice of reason. Most organizations have one and he or she isn't always popular. The one who sets the deadlines a week earlier than the report writers would like because of printing requirements. Or reminds you of the times that great idea you have for a new story has already been done before, and why you shouldn't do it again.

At our shop, that voice belonged to Carol Jordan. It was a quiet voice, out of proportion with the importance of what she had to say. But she never had to yell. She was always right. I sometimes heard people snap at her because of the stress of the task at hand. But I don't remember ever hearing her snap back, even at me when I deserved it. She was popular.

Carol was the person who had everyone else's back. The one who saw where the problems were in the schedules and bought us some of that extra time we thought we needed.

Mostly she was the person who thought ahead, not just the next week or two (the weekly reporter's typical outlook) but weeks and months.

The last couple of years, she took on the task of final proofreading and assembling corrections that other editors made on page proofs, an immense juggling act that she did very well. If production problems happened, as they sometimes do, that meant staying late. Carol was a single mom— her son, Jason, is 15 — who commuted to and from New Jersey, by bus. That meant a lot of coordinating with babysitters and neighbors, but she always saw her projects through to the end.

Carol was the confidante, the sympathetic friend who watched the same TV shows you did and took an interest in how your kids were doing and who made sure there was a card on your desk on your birthday, as my colleague Linda Moss recalled. Those are important, too, though they wouldn't show up in the box score, as baseball fans say. (Carol was partial to the Cleveland Indians.)

Part and parcel of being a non-complainer, Carol mostly kept the details of her illness to herself. She had been out of the office completely since around mid-summer, so people from outside the magazine who dealt with her knew she wasn't feeling well. But most of the e-mails I've received expressed shock as well as sympathy. Carol's missed much here, and that won't go away. But neither will the example of compassion, professionalism and leadership she set.