I’ve known lots of reporters, editors and photographers in my years in this crazy news business.
Some have been terrific at their jobs, some not so good. Some have been total professionals and have taken their jobs to heart and some, well, let’s say not so much. Some have gone on to larger heights in the business and others have remained local so to speak, happy to be the big fish in the little pond.
As someone who has managed reporters, editors and photographers over the years, some have managed to drive me crazy and there have also been plenty who were pleasures to work with.
I came to the Daily Local News in 2005. And that’s when I met Gretchen Metz. Gretchen was soft spoken but it was clear to me she was no amateur at her job as a business writer for this newspaper. She was a no-nonsense reporter who always asked ALL the questions, even the ones people didn’t like to answer. She was fair, accurate and there is no one I know who was more thorough at reporting. She managed every detail like a world-class chef making his or her favorite dish. There was nothing left out.
Then in another one of life’s cruelest events, Gretchen was struck with pancreatic cancer. She made no excuses, no self-pity, no asking, “why me?” Like another story assignment Gretchen figured out what she needed to do to fight the disease thrust upon her and darn it all there was nothing that was going to stop her.
Truth be told, the cancer Gretchen had should have killed her a long time ago. The fact that she survived as long as she did with one of the deadliest forms of the disease is just another testament to her strength, determination and unwillingness to give up or give in. While she hated the word “fight” to describe her dealings with her cancer, it was a fight she gave the cancer. And let me say that cancer probably never took on someone quite like Gretchen.
For example, while undergoing treatment including chemotherapy Gretchen would be calling the subjects of her next story, setting up time for photographs and video and sometimes, even doing parts of the interviews. To her, getting cancer was like getting a flat tire on her truck, an inconvenience that she would get past, another roadblock, nothing she couldn’t conquer.
We’ve all had our share of trouble in our lifetimes. Some of our suffering included deaths of parents, losses of jobs, being the victims of crime. And there are those who have suffered health issues, some more serious than others.
But in all honesty, any problems I have in my life are nothing compared to the havoc cancer caused Gretchen, ultimately winning the war.
Gretchen Metz will always be an inspiration to me, someone who suffered with the ultimate “problem” and who handled it with grace, class, a fighting spirit and a determination that cancer was not going to stop her from walking into the Daily Local News every morning. She came in with an attitude that she had things to do and by golly, this cancer thing was not getting in her way.
As the editor I hope that my staff has been affected by Gretchen’s wonderful life and career. Just when you think things are pretty crappy, I would hope they – and anyone who knew her and her plight – would think of Gretchen and wonder how she would handle the issues. Yes she was quiet, but there was a spirit there that I envied. She was the consummate professional, a journalist working up until 10 days before she passed away at the young age of 64. I’m not sure I could have handled it quite the way Gretchen did.
Ed Rendell, former mayor, governor and author of the book that talks about us becoming a nation of “wusses,” would have loved Gretchen. A wuss she wasn’t. And I admired her for that. And so did most people who knew her.
Eventually, someone else will reside in that desk. Another reporter will join our staff and be given the tasks Gretchen handled each and every day. And I’m sure that person will do a fine job. But even so, that person has the unlucky job of coming in on the heels of someone like Gretchen. She will be a tough act to follow and she will be missed more than she probably realized.
I will miss her. She was a class act, great person and true blue journalist.
— Andy Hachadorian