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March 31, 2000

In the month of May, 1941, I was a 16-year-old graduate of Perry high school and an aspiring member of the Fourth Estate, a brand new cub reporter for The Perry Daily Journal. I was eager to learn all about being a newspaperman but under the impression that I already knew a great deal because that's what I had always wanted to be. A few days later Miss Martha Jane Schneider, a spring graduate of the Journalism school at Oklahoma A&M. College, arrived upon the scene here and I thereby acquired a mentor who remains a dear friend to this very day. She and I were newly hired members of the news department at The Perry Daily Journal, Noble county's leading newspaper. W.K. Leatherock, publisher of the paper, had, in his infinite wisdom, chosen both of us to assist Managing Editor Francis Thetford in dishing up all the local news that he saw fit to print. Between them, Jane and Francis worked patiently to convert the teen-age mush in my skull into something with a little maturity, objectivity and an understanding of journalistic principles that are meaningful to me even to the present day.

Francis Thetford went on to become a featured columnist with the Daily Oklahoman, but he died an untimely death in 1969. When Francis left Perry for the Ponca City News in 1943, Jane moved to his desk and headed up the news department until the Associated Press in Oklahoma City hired her. In due time she was promoted to the Kansas City bureau, where she met another reporter, Jack Morrison, who eventually became her husband. Later they migrated West to San Francisco. Jack was a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and later was elected to the city's governing board. He has since passed away. In the city by the bay, Jane added broadcast journalism to her repertoire and was a member of the NBC radio outlet there before retiring. That is not an accurate description of her status because Jane has never been "retiring" in any sense of the word. She has labored diligently at serving other people, with great compassion, and she continues to do so still today. That's why she was selected last year as one of the "Women Making History" for her contributions to the quality of life of the people of San Francisco. The award was presented by Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr., the president of the board of supervisors, and the commission on the status of women. In part, the citation on her award reads like this:

"The Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco herewith issues and authorizes the execution of this Certificate of Honor in appreciative public recognition of distinction and merit for outstanding service to a significant portion of the people of the City and County of San Francisco by Jane Morrison, who, as president of the S.F. Human Services Commission, as an elected member of the S.F. Democrat county central committee, as president of San Francisco Tomorrow and as a member of the S.F. Port Commission Waterfront Plan Advisory Board, has dedicated her public and private life to community service and human rights equity issues, where she has brilliantly applied her extraordinary communication and organizing expertise and skills."

As the above plainly shows, this is a lady who takes her responsibilities seriously. I will have more to say about her when this column returns in a day or so.