As a young paramedic, I learned early on that we all hang by the slenderest thread. That thread snapped suddenly Wednesday for Sue Clark-Johnson, publisher of the Arizona Republic from 2000 through 2005.
She was 67, and although I had heard she had been hospitalized, the news came as a shock. The fifties and sixties are not the new thirties.
As a business editor and columnist, I have always had close relationships with publishers. Unlike other people in the newsroom, a business editor supervises the coverage of the publisher's peers and sometimes friends.
I have been blessed with good publishers such as Brad Tillson at the Dayton Daily News, Larry Strutton at the Rocky Mountain News, Harry Whipple at the Cincinnati Enquirer and the legendary Rolfe Neill at the Charlotte Observer. They supported the tough, high-impact, sophisticated journalism that we practiced. Frank Blethen has been a consistent supporter of my columns at the Seattle Times.
Sue was my friend and protector during my years as a columnist in Phoenix. Some of the most powerful people in Arizona came to her demanding that I be fired or silenced. She turned them away. Not only that, she provided me with a larger platform as an op-ed columnist on Sunday.