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Our Readers Write

Oct. 16, 2015 at 2:34 p.m.


Dear Editor,

I'm sad to hear about the death of Retha Whiddon, a longtime friend of The Panola Watchman.

As you know, Ms. Retha's column The Deadwood News was a staple of the paper for many years. As one of your former writers I can attest to how many times we got phone calls about the next Deadwood News.

Ms. Retha took over writing for the paper after her mother's death, and before that her mother took over the duty from Retha's sister. The column's first author was Hiram Clark LaGrone, who wrote about community and agriculture news around the turn-of-the-century. Like her predecessors, Ms. Retha wrote about family get-togethers, fish frys, births, deaths, anniversaries, and the occasional new house. She always found something to write about the two Deadwood Churches. Now, the chronicler of Deadwood's social history and one of its torchbearer's of civic duty has gone on to her reward.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are with my grandparents in Deadwood. My Mamaw and Pawpaw always "took" the newspaper, and every time I visited them I made sure to find their latest copy. I couldn't wait to read the Deadwood News because Ms. Retha was more than just another contributor for The Watchman—she was the Deadwood mail carrier, my neighbor, and a cousin.

We've all heard the jokes about The Deadwood News. I've even made them. But today I'm so proud to have known a person who dedicated so much of her free time to compiling community news and preserving a long-running tradition. Someone who dedicated so much time not only to her church, but also to the preservation of the historic Deadwood Cemetery. Election Day in Deadwood will not be the same without Ms. Retha's prudent oversight.

For me at least, The Panola Watchman will never be the same without Ms. Retha's Deadwood News.

Best regards,

Rodger G. McLane

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