Kay Hagan, a public servant and a friend

I have a lot of memories about my interactions with Kay Hagan, who died yesterday. She was, as everyone said yesterday, smart and tough and passionate. A true public servant.

We met in 1998 when I was editorial page editor, and she was a candidate for the state Senate. I was impressed then and, if memory serves, we endorsed her. Since then, I’d visit with her when we’d run into each other at the grocery store. I’d talk with her on the soccer sidelines as our daughters were growing up. I spoke to her Sunday School class at First Pres about my role as editor. And, of course, we’d often talk politics — when she wanted to discuss issues or our coverage.

I remember her best, though, for her role in one of my favorite memories at the paper. Back in 2010, we were planning our 50th anniversary coverage of the Greensboro Sit-Ins, and Metro Editor Teresa Prout came up with the idea to ask President Obama to write what it meant to him. She liked the idea and, as a U.S. senator at the time, took it to the president. She made it happen, and we stripped his column across the top of the front page on Feb. 1, 2010. (Can you imagine what President Trump would do with a request like that on the 60th anniversary in February?)

The next time I saw Kay, I thanked her for helping us. I don’t remember her exact response – and she said it better than this – but it was something like: “I was happy to be a part of it. His message was so good, and it describes the power and inspiration of the people in Greensboro.”

Sad that someone who embodied that power and inspiration passed away yesterday.