Tribute to Ann Kirby

By Randy Garrison

For the Enquirer

To those who have never worked in a newspaper, “deadlines” might not mean anything to you. In a newspaper, your day is based on deadlines, and in a weekly newspaper, press day was your big deadline. 

This was the day the newspaper was sent to the press to be printed. All the corrections, spell checks, cutlines under photos, ads inserted and everything lined up correctly on the page had to be finished by a certain time in order to make your press deadline. 

Ann Kirby worked at the Hartselle Enquirer for 47 years, from 1969-2017. She filled many roles, but her unspecified role was to keep everything flowing. She kept the pages in order, made corrections to pages and paid extra special attention to obituaries and wedding announcements. She had lived in Hartselle all her life and knew or had a connection to lots of folks. If something did not appear correct, even down to the spelling of a name, she made sure it was corrected before it went to press. 

I think it is pretty moving to me that she made her final deadline on a Tuesday, when she spent so many Tuesdays of her life getting the paper ready and meeting deadlines. 

Ann passed onto her eternal reward last Tuesday. She was reunited with her husband Sherman, who passed in 2010. 

We used to joke at the paper that if you spend eternity working on a newspaper to which destination you arrived. But I was blessed to work with Ann for 14 years. She was definitely the glue that held the paper together. 

From the first day I started until the day I left, I always knew there was someone there I could depend on, confide in, share good times and bad and know she always had my back.

Ann loved people, and she was loved in return. She loved Sherman, even though she would get aggravated when he built another hay barn when she thought he needed to slow down or when he bought more cows. She loved Kevin and Scott and Susanna and worshipped her grandchildren. I remember when they found out Kameron was coming, I referred to her as “Granny Annie.”

She was very close to all her family, sisters, her mom, aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws. She loved her friends and was a good friend to many. 

She loved Jesus and knew where her salvation came from. She loved her church and Sunday school class and her home at Cedar Cove. 

She loved the Enquirer and all the folks she worked with during her many years there. She used to joke that she came with the building.

It was really like an extended family at the paper; we cared for each other, and she was leader of the family. We laughed and celebrated the good times and cried and supported each other during the sad times. During the 14 years we shared at the paper, Ann suffered two great loses: Sherman and her sister Deborah.  

I have missed working with Ann, and to be honest I should have stayed in closer contact. After I left, we talked on a regular basis, but after she left the paper and especially after she became ill, I regret that I did not visit or stay in contact as I should have. 

The last time I saw Ann in person was at my oldest son’s wedding. We always think we have plenty of time.

Ann will be missed, but she is no longer suffering; she arrived safe to the arms of Jesus. 

I love the words to the last verse of “Because He Lives.” This verse speaks of what will happen to all of us and how we can arrive safely at home if we know Jesus:

“And then one day, I’ll cross the river
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!”

Ann saw the lights of glory last Tuesday, and what a sight I bet it was to behold. You will be missed my friend. Go rest high on that mountain; you met your final deadline, and it is well with your soul.

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