I began writing a “faith and values” column for the Reporter the month we moved to Mercer Island about 18 years ago. For the next nine years, Mary Grady was my editor. She continually welcomed my submissions and was always quick to offer ideas for future articles. I loved being part of her staff. I thought of myself as being part of “The Grady Bunch.”
But Mary Grady wasn’t a push-over. Not every idea I proposed met with her approval. Her editorial experience provided her a red pen with ample ink and an instinct for when to use it. Even though she respected my abilities as a poet, Mary had a hard and fast rule. My columns had to be prose. No poetry was allowed.
On more than one occasion I appealed to the Reporter’s top dog to make an exception for a holiday-themed column. Although her Irish eyes were smiling, her tail wasn’t wagging. For this particular editor, no poetry meant NO POETRY (even at Thanksgiving and Christmas).
Although I didn’t agree with her no-poetry bias, I appreciated the fact that Mary understood my slant on columns I composed. She was a person of faith who resonated with my celebration of the sacred. And her love of her family hardly a secret. Mary valued the topics I tackled because of her sensitivity to what really mattered most in life. Those times that space limitations prevented my articles from being printed, she understood my disappointment and was quick to apologize.
When the Reporter operated out of the building behind Island Books, I enjoyed stopping in a chatting with Mary. Her office, with a window overlooking the parking lot. provided the perfect opportunity to wave a greeting when she was on a phone call.
From the time Mary passed the baton to the new editor in 2015, our paths didn’t cross. Although she remained on the Island, my work at Covenant Shores limited my community involvement. We just never ran into each other. If she read my regular columns, I’m guessing she was pleased my words didn’t rhyme.
But in this week that my new book of poetry is being introduced at Island Books, I can’t adequately express my gratitude for my friend and former editor without violating her rules. The following bit of doggerel is offered as a tribute to a remarkable person (with the hope that Mary will understand my contrariness).
A journalist leprechaun,
she often worked from dusk to dawn
compiling news that’s fit to print
and always with a smile.
She wasn’t tall. She wasn’t old.
But Mary found her pot of gold
by meeting deadlines every week
and making me look good.
Peace to her memory!
Guest columnist Greg Asimakoupoulos is a former chaplain at Covenant Living at the Shores in Mercer Island.