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Purcell: Sally Ann Shurmur is a Wyoming institution
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Purcell: Sally Ann Shurmur is a Wyoming institution

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Editor: Sally Ann Shurmur is a Wyoming institution. She’s been a voice for the people, a community building advocate through print, reaching into the homes of every reader, for 43 years.

That’s my entire life. 43 years. So when I say Sally Ann has been a part of my life, I am not exaggerating.

Sally Ann is a true blue Republican of my grandfather’s Republican party. I am not. But, as far as I recall, we have always respected each other and never made the other feel less than for their ideals.

Sal is a Catholic. I was raised in the Episcopal faith; both are both steeped in love, and in kindness.

Sal is kind. But she was never afraid to call out the truth — like the time I said the parking lot was walking distance to the event venue. It was, if you are 10 years old. Still, she walked, she came, she made time to join me and 200 other people on a ranch’s lawn south of Glenrock to eat good food and celebrate. Then she wrote about it.

Most times after an interview I want to see what Sal had written (because I am not always as articulate as she makes me out to be and, like any good reporter, she quotes me exactly).

Sal has given voice and light to important work around the community.

When the Boys & Girls Club was expanding to their then-new building 15 years ago, Sal was there to share the news.

When the Troopers Drum & Bugle Corps came back from a necessary year off of restructuring, Sal sat down with the Corps Director, and listened, gave a few pieces of advice, and then wrote about their rise to top 12.

When Wyoming Food for Thought Project was founded, Sal was one of our first champions. Her willingness to help tell the story of our work gave validity to what we were and are still doing.

She’s a champion for everyone. She’s the voice of community and I truly hope the leaders of the Casper Star-Tribune allow our community to have another voice for the people as truly committed to the voice of the people as Sally Ann Shurmur.

There are certain elements to a community that make it feel truly like everyone belongs. Sal took the untold stories of quiet works being done, large events, and everything in between, and gave it a voice. She brought us into her life by sharing stories of Mouse and Skinny Son, as well as the Friend, her parents, and her siblings.

And then she called me and told me she was required to invite someone from the community to the Casper Star-Tribune Editorial Board, and I was her choice. No one with any sense says no to Sally Ann. So, every week I get the distinct honor to spend time with Sal, along with all of the other incredible smart and articulate members of the Editorial Board. And every week I pinch myself. I have no idea how I got so lucky to call Sal a friend, or to have her in my community.

Sal leaving the newspaper makes me feel a huge loss. I am, of course, happy for her and her new retirement and will, no doubt, see her again. But her voice will not greet us in the pages of the paper. When we unfold the Star-Tribune, coffee in hand, and Wyoming morning sun on our kitchen table, we will not read her recipes and imagine her in her own tiny kitchen making the same casserole with canned soup that we are currently making.

However, as I have been instructed directly from Sally Ann’s own mouth, we will be happy for her and we will celebrate. Here’s to your retirement, Sal. It is bittersweet but we will celebrate and be happy. Because you told us to.

Jamie Purcell is the co-founder and executive director of Wyoming Food For Thought Project.

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