Obituary: Anna Glover – mentor and ‘mother hen’

Anna Dixon passed away on Friday, 23rd December 2016

Anna Glover passed away on Friday, 23rd December 2016

Bega District News celebrate the life of former editor Anna Glover, who passed away on December 23, 2016.

Anna Glover, who died from cancer on Friday, December 23, was born in Ireland, August 26, 1949, the third child of seven of Patrick and Ellen Clarke.

The family migrated to Australia in 1961 and settled in Grafton.

Anna was educated by the Mercy nuns, and began her journalism cadetship with the Daily Examiner in 1966.

She later moved to work at the Courier Mail in Brisbane.

It was in Brisbane that she met her husband, Dick Glover, as they were living in the same digs.

They courted for two years and during that time Dick moved to Canberra to work for the public service and Anna followed him, working for The Canberra Times.

They married in January 1973.

Anna also became a public servant working first with the NCDC and then in the public relations section of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.

While in Canberra Anna and Dick purchased land at Bemboka, and later a house.

When the Bega District News‘ manager, John Leach, advertised for an editor and Anna replied, he couldn’t have been more delighted as he knew the quality of her work from their days together on the Courier Mail.

The Bega District News office was in Auckland Street when Anna joined and the papers from Eurobodalla and the  Monaro were printed there as well as the Magnet and the Merimbula News.

Anna soon set her own style of factual reporting and was generous sharing her skills nurturing and mentoring the young journalists.

She also thought up new regular features for the paper and tried them out.

Some worked, some didn’t.

Over the 21 years of Anna’s editorship, production changes were frequent with the BDN ahead of many city papers in accepting the new technology.

Anna not only had to be abreast of the changes, which certainly in latter years involved the journalists doing work previously done by compositors, but she also had to ensure that the her staff also adapted to the new systems.

When the office moved from Auckland Street to its present site, it was Anna’s organisational skills that made it possible for the move on a Tuesday and everything in place to publish on a Friday, not only a regular edition but a 20-page feature on Bega High School’s 50th anniversary.

Anna became a very active member of the Chamber of  Commerce and its vice-president, and worked hard to promote Bega, not only as a place to shop, but also to visit, particularly in tourist time.

The main street became an art gallery for a number of years and Anna, with advertising manager Susie Pfeiffer, made the one-day Bega Showjumping event over the Christmas/New Year period the richest showjumping  competition in Australia.

While at BDN, Anna not only worked the staff hard, but she also made sure they partied hard, and there were many great social gatherings, where her wit and great sense of humour shone.

She left the paper to join the Bega Valley Shire Council as media consultant, and only retired a few months ago as the cancer took hold.

She is survived by her husband Dick and her siblings, Patrick, Frances, Kevin, Ursula, Sighle and Eugene and their families.

Mrs Dixon started her career with a cadetship with the Daily Examiner in 1966.

Mrs Glover started her career with a cadetship with the Daily Examiner in 1966.

Former colleagues pay tribute to their ‘Mother Hen’

Anna Buck – Columnist at Fairfax Media

Kylie Miller – Writer, editor and communications advisor at Cupcake Communications

Gordon Weigold – Editor at the Canberra Times Sunday newspaper

Maureen Hickman – Former colleague

By Anna Buck – Columnist at Fairfax Media

I first met Anna Glover at a craft market where I was selling hand-made dolls. She had no children of her own, but bought one for her niece, and we chatted and became friends. It turned out we both came from migrant families – hers Irish, mine English – with a lot of children.

That act of support was the first of many – from having a cup of coffee together and swapping gossip we went on to share writing the column ‘Annagrams’ in the Bega District News – so called because we two Annas were writing it.

Our topics ranged from husbands to hairdos and a host of trivial topics, and between us we managed to offend just about everyone in the Bega Valley. But we entertained a lot of readers too, which had been Anna’s intention – her aim was not only to provide accurate, relevant coverage of all that was happening in our region, but to make the Bega District News a highly readable paper.

Anna dropped out of ‘Annagrams’ after a year or two, during a phase when life ‘wasn’t very funny’ – possibly when she was exposing the fact that our council was unworkable (it was ultimately sacked) – and left me to a career in column writing that lasted over 30 years.

When my husband Bob and I were struggling to help our children stay at university, she employed me as a features writer, and then as journalist for the tourist paper.

She had considerable faith in me, because I had no training or experience in either role. I had little idea what I could or couldn’t write without the paper being sued – I would blithely include details of dodgy commercial deals or juicy bits of gossip until I was taught better. I couldn’t even use a computer when I began. But Anna knew I could write, and hoped it wouldn’t take too long to knock me into shape.

She was an editor in the true sense of the word – she read what we wrote before it went to print. Sloppy grammar or spelling and inaccuracies of any kind were not tolerated; she expected a high standard from her journalists and gave us a good rap over the knuckles (verbally) if we needed it.

She taught me that the right word was worth half a dozen vague ones, and that just about anything I wrote would be better a quarter of its length; also that everyone has a name and deserves to have it accurately recorded beneath their photograph.

Lazy journalism wasn’t tolerated – one of the few times I heard her blow her top was when she was repeatedly presented with an image of a cauliflower to represent the produce on offer at the local show. Loud and clear it came out of the Editor’s office – “I don’t want a picture of a f…..g cauliflower!”

Her door was always open if you had a problem, but she was there to work and expected everyone else to work too. When Susie Pfeiffer and I were sent out to get stories and advertising dollars from Bermagui, she expected more than a picture of two dogs mating on an otherwise empty wharf. They had inadvertently romped into the bottom of the photograph.

Eventually, I rewarded her investment in me with awards for the newspaper; the biggest boost for me was realising that I could both contribute to my community and earn a living, thanks to Anna’s faith and guidance.

Anna listened to what her staff had to say about anything and everything, and respected the views and rights of all from the cleaner upwards. Fairness and justice started with the Editor, always.

It was a fun workplace too – running a newspaper and journalism are stressful jobs, but Anna loved a joke, and loved to share it around.

She had to fire me twice during economy directives from head office, hiring me again when it had blown over, and it says a lot for our relationship that we remained good friends through it all.

There are many in the Bega Valley who owe an opportunity to get started in a career to Anna; we had to earn our money, but she would fight for our right to be there in the work force, earning an income.

Others had her support through the paper; editorials, or positive stories about their endeavours or projects. People have said to me, on learning of her death;

“Anna believed I could do it, and because she believed in me, I believed in myself.”

During her last couple of years our roles were almost reversed – I wound up supplying her with the right word when her brain had it but her tongue didn’t.

Three days before she died, she was advising me with her usual accuracy and grasp of the situation as to whether we could expect a town sewage system on our side of the river or not; it may be a year or two before she’s proved right, but I’m sure she is.

I can’t say how much I will miss not being able to have a coffee with Anna, gossiping about all matters from what’s happening in the Bega Valley to State and Federal shenanigans to Donald Trump and beyond. Whatever the mayhem of the moment was, it all seemed so much more manageable after I’d talked it over with Anna.

From Kylie Miller – Writer, editor and communications advisor at Cupcake Communications

For someone who joked about her aversion to small children, Anna could not have been more maternal when it came to her adopted “kids”; those she mentored as young journalists, and nurtured and supported throughout their careers.

Under her guiding hand and watchful eye, we flourished. She was a generous and supportive manager and a wonderful friend who kept a keen interest in our progress long after we had moved on.

Life as one of Anna’s “kids” began nearly 30 years go at the Bega District News when she hired me to work during my university holidays after a productive stint of unpaid work experience.

Anna played an enormous role in shaping the journalist and the person I became, and she deserves much credit for any success I have enjoyed. I know the same applies to many of us, including my friends, Greg Pierce, Leanne Abernethy and Gordon Wiegold.

Anna was loved and will be greatly missed, however her memory lives on in the lives and careers of those she has shaped. We toast our friend with gratitude – and a generous sip of fine, Irish whisky.

By Gordon Wiegold – Editor at the Canberra Times Sunday newspaper

Bega District News general manager John Leach walked past my desk two days into my journalistic career, before doing a double-take and popping his head back around the door to observe me at the keyboard.

I knew who he was, and I’d dodged his interrogations on Anna’s advice up until this point – besides, what would he care about the BDN’s new cub reporter?

“Hello young man, how are you settling in?” Mr Leach asked me.

Fumbling a few words about getting used to the system, I tried to talk and type at the same time so not to incur the GM’s wrath about me “slacking off” at our first meeting.

A veteran of the industry, Mr Leach (as I always called him), his eyes wandered across my mode of operation and he only had one question for the CCAE graduate and two-fingered typist he had just employed under Anna’s advisement.

“How many words a minute can you type son?”

I am not sure of my exact answer but I was street-smart enough to fumble something in the 60s or 70s given my cricket experience, and a feeling that was in Credit to High Distinction typing speed range.

Mr Leach just nodded, looked at the ground and motored into Anna’s office.

When she came back to me, she didn’t bother asking what speed I’d inferred, she simply said: “If ever anyone asks you what you can do, you say you can do it, and that you were the top of your class.”

It was the first of many examples that Mother Hen Glover was never, EVER, going to let her cub reporter be bossed around by anyone.

So began a four-year stint that set up my working life, my journalistic standards, my thoughts as a man (a father and a leader), and a moral barometer on everything from “sick days” to “bringing down the establishment”.

Sick days – back at that time I played rugby league to try and fit in. Bad move on many fronts.

Tarlo said I’d never oust Ray Ringland as a half back (I wasn’t good enough to clean his boots), and every victory on a Sunday for Bega Roosters under “Luscious” Lloyd Martin was followed by such celebration at the Grand Hotel that I’d inevitably fake a call to Anna most Mondays saying I somehow got the flu between full time and this phone call.

As a manager in recent years I’d frown on the kids that would try similar strategies until I remembered the way Anna tolerated my poorly constructed falsities rung in from the public phone outside of the Tathra Newsagency – pretty much exclusively on Mondays.

Family to Anna was not about blood, it was all about her blessing.

She defended the BDN mast, the people under its roof, and the mistakes we made without hesitation.

Grumpy Tarlo who was one of the few brave ones strong enough to challenge Anna, Milly Deighton and his dodgy blade, Fraggle who most would know as Leanne, Johnny Walker (the man and photographer – not the drink), and Gym junkie Dennis who was so kind that Janelle and Helen used to play tricks on him to try and infuriate him.

Suzie Pfeiffer was determined enough to make Anna think the advertising was important and Maree Herg was clever enough to know the days when to play her trump card wisely against Editorial.

It was a dysfunctional family that often needed representing and that was Anna’s job as she marched a well-worn path to Mr and Mrs Leach’s office.

Only very recently on a Facebook inbox, she told me a trade secret but didn’t give away the password.

“By the way,” she said at the end of one of our conversations, “You once told me that when you come away from John [Leach] discussing an issue, I think it was windows or blinds, you said you felt really good until you got out of the office and realise you’ve achieved absolutely nothing.”

“Well I know how to do that now, pure Gold.”

She was at home with everyone and always trying to make compositors into journos (Ray Spencer) and young journos and editors into superstars like Leanne Abernethy, Greg Pierce, Kylie Miller, Stuart Carless and many more before Council was smart enough to snap her up.

Now there’s a genius – whoever implored the BVSC to employ Anna and drag her away from the paper was a guru in every sense.

Anna singlehandedly brought down a corrupt and errant council under the leadership of one of her greatest arch-enemies, Cr Mick Allen.

It resulted in Anna’s finest hour as a journalist.

The day that BVSC voted to discuss matters in confidence in a bid to stop Anna’s reporting on the contentious Twofold Bay Caravan Park owned by Cr Allen, she played her trump card … a blank front page outside of a small text box with words intimating “that if council gets its way, this is all that we’ll be allowed to publish of critical matters of public interest.”

It was the beginning of the end for the Allen regime which also took some good community citizens down with it.

Anna could handle most, but former editor and newspaper legend Curly Annabel, was one that she needed some help with, and I couldn’t believe she enlisted me to shake his tag.

Curly would arrive and make his way through reception like Donald Trump short-circuiting Trump Tower protocol.

But his tag was unshakeable and eventually Anna worked on a system that once he was there for 15 minutes, I had to ring her and say she had an important call.

Some of those two or three minutes of fake important calls were my very best comedic work with Anna doing everything to maintain a straight face as Curly eventually admitted defeat and departed.

But the way I’ll always remember Anna is as my second mother.

I was fresh out of uni, clueless, poorly taught and a bundle of energy and danger wrapped in one.

She was one of the few people in my career who made me feel like I had free rein (whilst she remained in complete control) but never once crushed my spirit. Never.

When my car broke down, she gave me the work car under the proviso that I picked her up on the way into Bega (derrrr… I never had a sick day ever again) and I had the pleasure of meeting Dick every day, Bossy, and the rest of the farmyard menagerie.

On Mondays I used to have to sleep off my hangovers after footy – often finding pics of myself asleep on the desk in the black and white proof sheets that the comps would take with a giggle as I waited for Anna to proof the front page.

When it came time to leave the BDN, and head for the Summit Sun in Jindabyne, I realised I had to get something special.

Here I was, a Z Grade journo with little savings trying to make his way but also realising that I had to buy the classiest person I know something of note that sufficiently said “thanks for everything”.

I decided on a glass-cased clock (truth is, it might have been plastic casing but it was well out of my price range and a genuine, hand-on-heart effort to show my gratitude).

Whenever I’d speak to Anna, she’d always tell me the clock was “amazingly” keeping great time.

When I rang Dick this week, to commiserate her passing and share a laugh over some of the old times, I said goodbye and he stopped me.

“You were often the point of discussion here,” he told me, “that clock you bought us has never missed a beat.”

Just like the woman who inspired it. Timeless.

It must be true, Anna (or Dick) would never fudge the truth for a cheap headline.

I love you Anna and Dick (and Bossy).

You will always be timeless to me and the people you took under your wing.

Vale Anna

By Maureen Hickman – Former colleague

I feel a deep sadness for all of us who know her.

Although I know she had been sick with breast cancer and previously the shunt in her head, I had no idea how really ill she was.

I had always hoped we might meet again, some time.

We met first of all in the Dept. of Aboriginal Affairs in 1974 when Anna celebrated her 25th birthday not long after arriving there.

I was quite a bit older, 44, not long back at work after my youngest child started school. I was employed as a journalist, as was Anna.

I was described officially as ‘a part-time temporary female’ PTTF, and Anna was permanent. We hit it off immediately and maintained a close friendship until she left the department some years later, and then intermittently and when opportunities arose.

Perhaps the Irish heritage and our bemused tolerance for unreconstructed males helped. We shared many a private joke, mainly about the same unreconstructed males we worked with.

One of them, another Catholic, though probably not as lapsed as we were, told us we reminded him of ‘two lovely nuns’. We felt we both stood a chance for beatification so long as we kept smiling.

The big thing, however, was that we worked really well together. We were the only people on site that had actually been trained in journalism, the others coming into it, as many people classified as journalists in the public service had, in strange and wonderful ways – like phoning through the results of cricket matches in Queanbeyan to the Canberra Times.

Anna had trained at the Courier Mail, as I recall, and I did my cadetship in Sydney at the old Daily Telegraph. We were, of course, the most junior journalists on staff – you can’t get any lower than a part time temporary female.

I ended up a year or two later, being permanent and being elevated to the job of Director of Public Relations.

I followed Anna’s later career with great interest. I was especially impressed when I once dropped into Bega to see her running the Bega News. Every inch the editor. Should show unreconstructed males everywhere that you have to watch out for a couple of lapsed Catholics masquerading as lovely nuns.

Anna and I were very much into the good causes of the 70s, both pasting pink bumper sticks with ‘A woman’s Place is Everywhere’ to mark International Women’s Year (and getting monstered on the roads by irate mean for our sentiments).

When ‘Save the Whale’ was launched, we were into that too, bumper stickers and lapel buttons.

One day, Anna had come up to the office in a lift with a lone male. He looked at her lapel button and her then-generous figure and commented: ‘Well, I suppose you large mammals have to stick together’.

It was typical of Anna that she could relate this to me with a giggle. Anna was very close to her family, was a loving and caring wife to Dick, and a loyal and warm-hearted generous friend.

I can’t tell you how very sad I am. I feel as if I have lost a sister.

This article originally appeared in the Bega District News and has been republished courtesy of Fairfax Media.

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