For 40 years, Ellen Beveridge told the community’s stories

Ellen Beveridge
Ellen Beveridge

Ellen Beveridge was, in my experience, one of the most important people in the lives of regular folk living in Trumbull, Shelton, Monroe, Easton and their neighboring communities for more than 40 years, yet relatively few people were aware of her. She didn't mind; I think she was satisfied fulfilling a role that few others did, and certainly not at her level or standards.

Ellen was the social editor of the Trumbull Times and, as the Hometown Publications territory expanded, so did her role - to the Monroe Courier, then the Easton Courier and the Huntington Herald, where I came into her realm. I was merely 25 when I became the first Herald editor. I already had plenty of writing experience, but I didn't know page layout (a laborious process at the time, yet a critical job responsibility).

The publisher hired me anyway and put me in Ellen's care. I learned layout, all right, and some of the finer points of editing, especially regarding social news. My education was, at times, equally frustrating to us both, but she persevered and taught me well. So well, in fact, that when I became executive editor and started hiring 20-somethings who didn't know a thing about layout, I sent them her way.

For 17 years, Ellen and I trained a generation of journalists. But her influence was much more remarkable than that; her reach encompassed three generations.

When she marked 40 years at Hometown, we realized that she was writing birth announcements for infants whose grandparents' wedding announcements she ushered into the Trumbull Times' pages decades earlier. And, in between, she wrote, edited, laid out and published articles about the families' high school and college graduations, honor roll and dean's list achievements, awards, new jobs and civic club activities—all the things that matter most to us as individuals.

She was a fixture in Hometown's newsroom until she was 84, and even there it wasn't age or infirmity that led to her retirement; it was yet another darn computer system she was supposed to learn. Ellen, who began her career on an Underwood typewriter, had learned basic computer functions on the big, clunky machines that took up huge sections of our desks. She learned Just Text, and then Microsoft Word (training rookie reporters how to lay out pages was much easier). She got through Y2K with the rest of us, but, in 2007, InDesign was more than enough. She retired, sort of—she held on to her connection to Trumbull with a column in the Times.

I learned today that Ellen passed away a few days ago, and I was deeply saddened. Then I felt compelled. Ellen helped train a generation of fledgling journalists, and she was important to three generations of people in Trumbull and other communities, telling their stories of achievement. The least I can do is tell hers.