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Longtime News employee Frederick calling it a career

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By Cindy Simpson

 

Becky Frederick has seen many faces come and go at the Roane County News in her almost 36 years of service.
Now she herself will become part of the newspaper’s long history when she says goodbye on her last day, April 29.
“I enjoyed it. It was a good job, and I enjoyed the people I worked with — always have — every one of them,” Frederick said. “We’ve had lots of fun.
“For years, I always said I’ll never retire — they’ll have to carry me out of here,” she continued. “I just physically got to the point where I felt it was time. I guess mentally, too.”
Frederick, 72, works in what she and her co-workers refer to as “the front office.” She has been one of the welcoming faces for newspaper visitors, whether they are there to place classified or legal advertising with her or to speak with someone else.
She began working at the Roane County News on June 15, 1975.
The U.S. was a year away from celebrating its bicentennial anniversary. Gerald R. Ford was nearing his first year as the nation’s 38th president after the Watergate scandal, a historic event in which the press played a pivotal role, forced the first-ever and only presidential resignation of Richard M. Nixon.
Frederick  said her side of the newspaper business hasn’t changed all that much.
“It has somewhat,” she reflected, “although it is still very much the same, because a newspaper doesn’t change much.”
One thing that has changed is the growing number of classified and legal ads.
“There are lots more now, especially on foreclosure notices,” Frederick said.
She’s particularly grown fond of her front-office colleagues, including previous co-workers.
“It’s always been good up here,” she said. “There has never been a time up here where we didn’t have good people that would work with each other.”
One of those former coworkers, Faye Williams, first worked for The Harriman Record and joined the Roane County News staff when the company purchased The Record and The Rockwood Times.
“Faye was a good gal,” Frederick said. “She’s the only one of all the people that I worked with up here that died.”
The front-office staff has enjoyed Frederick as well, including the many times they’ve went out socially after work.
“That is some of the most fond memories is getting to go out with the girls in the office,” Frederick said.
One of the group’s favorite stories is from a Christmas celebration when they went to Cumberland County Playhouse and dinner at Cumberland Mountain State Park Restaurant. Frederick struggled to get into the pickup truck of a former employee who had joined them for the festivities.
She finally got in, but the problems didn’t end there.
“She was totally backward and couldn’t get turned around,” said bookkeeper Paulette Pelfrey.
Circulation manager “Sara (Baylis) and Lois (Trivett, retired human resources/office manager) are just crying, they are laughing so hard,” added Tiffeney Yeary, who now holds Trivett’s former position and was watching from the sidelines with another staff member, Becky Bullard from circulation.
While other co-workers laughed in mirth, Pelfrey ran around the truck to help.
“That is our favorite memory of Becky. That night we had a good time,” Pelfrey said. “You had to be there.”
Before the Playhouse tradition, the group went to Knoxville to eat and shop until as late as 11 p.m. on a weeknight.
Frederick has seen ownership of the newspaper change several times over the years, and she’s witnessed the newspaper itself grow and change as the county and communities changed shape.
When she first started Paul Page was publisher, Boots Cook was sports editor and Louise Hackett was office manager.
“They had just moved into this building not too long before I started,” Frederick said of the green metal building that now houses the offices on Franklin Street in Kingston. The former offices were in a building near Kingston City Hall.
Frederick has made many community connections over the years. She is good friends with Kingston’s Jim Henry, the city’s former mayor who eventually served in the Tennessee House of Representatives and is now commissioner of Tennessee’s Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
“I’ve helped when he was running for different offices,” Frederick said.
She also got to know and count former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis as a friend, despite their opposing political views.
“I’m a Republican, but through the Jaycees, my husband (Wyndle) and I became good friends with Lincoln Davis,” Frederick said, “and every time he would come in during his campaigns, I would always get a hug from him.”
Frederick also once was part of and supported the now-defunct local chapter of the Right to Life organization. She served as the group’s treasurer and submitted news releases.
“I supported it very much,” said Frederick, whose car bears a Right to Life license plate. “I support the national and state organization whenever I can.”
She also gathered Election Day results for the Associated Press for years.
Now that she has time on her hands, Frederick plans to pursue a love of gardening and volunteer for her favorite causes.
No doubt she’ll also be spending more time with her family. Now widowed, Frederick has three daughters and two sons-in-law, Debbie and Chuck Brooks of Grayson, Ga., Suzy and Adam Badger of Kingston and Teri Frederick of Idaho; a foster son and daughter-in-law, Stephen and Sunny Powers; seven grandchildren, Robert Badger, Chrissy Elsea, Chris Brooks, Eric Brooks, Kevin Brooks, David Brooks and Celeste Powers; and three great-grandchildren, Evan Badger, Avery Elsea and Hunter Elsea.