Shirley Jones gave so much to so many

Kim Brooks
Babbling Brooks Column
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The newspaper business is about collaboration.

      When I started working at the Monticello Express in 2009, Jones County still had three newspapers. It quickly became clear to me that the Express and Shirley Jones with the Midland Times in Wyoming were collaborators.

     In my time here, I became good friends with Shirley. It seemed we saw life in much the same ways. We both had a passion for covering our local news and sharing people’s stories with our readers. But, Shirley’s passion far outweighed mine. She most definitely cared about providing a quality newspaper for her readers in southern Jones County.

     Shirley sadly passed away on Aug. 28 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

     Earlier this year, she no doubt reluctantly ended her 33-year career producing the Midland Times. I am quite certain that decision did not come lightly to her, as that newspaper was her life’s mission.

     The Midland School District greatly benefitted from Shirley’s never-ending passion and dedication. When the school broke ground for its new addition, which was narrowly voted on by the district’s voters, Shirley was there to take photos and cover the grand event.

     She was generous enough to then share her work with the Express so we could show our readers what the Midland School District was able to do after passing a bond issue.

     Over the years, Shirley and myself and Pete Temple here at the Express attended many county events together, working as a team at times to assist one another. The Great Jones County Fair is a prime example.

     In my early days here, Shirley was seen photographing all of the Midland-area 4-H and FFA youth as they exhibited livestock at the fair. While the Express focuses on the champions and reserve champions, Shirley made sure each and every kid was photographed, no matter if they received a red ribbon or champion trophy. In her mind, they worked just as hard.

     Shirley was also seen at other events such as the Jones County Conservation Awards, the 4-H Awards, the Jones County Safe and Healthy Youth Coalition events and panel discussions, and many political speaking engagements. She did what any hometown newspaper reporter would do, cover the news.

     On occasion, if Pete or I couldn’t make an event, we could knowingly rely on Shirley to help us out; and vise versa. Though there was two of us and only one of her, she made it work. And if she had news to share about Jones County residents in her neck of the woods and felt it was worthy enough to share, the Express ran Shirley’s submitted work, giving her credit of course.

     Again, that partnership was one of a kind.

     In the last year or so of the Midland Times, we were supplying her with coverage of the Jones County Supervisor meetings. It was only right that residents in that part of the county be privy to what’s going on with our county officials.

     While the Midland schools were a passion of Shirley’s, she also had a love of the Wyoming Fair.

     The Midland Times became the official newspaper of the Wyoming Fair. Shirley dedicated her time to the weekend of the fair every year. She featured the youth showing livestock, the tractor pull event, the evening parade and more. She took pride in covering that small-town fair as much as anyone.

     Taking up in her footsteps, the Express also covered the Wyoming fair this year, though it just didn’t seem the same without Shirley there.

     While her family is honoring Shirley’s wishes for a private service, it goes without saying that she was loved and enjoyed by so many. She touched people’s lives with her articles in the paper, by just sitting down and listing to them tell their stories. Sometimes we rush through our daily tasks, and Shirley took the time to get to know her readers.

     It’s not a stretch to say she will be greatly missed… 


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