Clara Cartrette helped organize the North Carolina Press Women affiliate in 1978 and has been active ever since. At the Idaho conference in 2008 she was honored as NFPW Communicator of Achievement, the highest honor given to a member. She is a hard working, dedicated member who has helped her affiliate and NFPW succeed. I missed seeing her smiling face in Alaska, it was the first conference she has missed since joining, so I can’t wait to see her again this fall in Kansas. Meet another outstanding member I am honored to call a friend.
Name: Clara J. Cartrette
City and State: Tabor City, North Carolina
Affiliate and any leadership positions: I was the first state affiliate president of North Carolina Press Women for four years, which might have bending the rules somewhat at that time, but I was the only one attending NFPW conferences and members voted me to serve. I have held various other offices on the state and national level, including being a charter member of the NFPW Education Fund. I have served on the NFPW elections board a couple of times, membership director, elected NFPW third vice president in 1985, served as NFPW President Gwen White’s “Fun and Frivolity” chairman and introduced the “First Timers” program, POPPS secretary and I’ve been “recycled” to serve as state president for quite a few years.
One of the most important things to happen to me was when I was honored to be selected as NFPW’s Communicator of Achievement at the Idaho conference in 2008.
Years a member of NFPW: 38
Tell us a little about you.
I got a job as a reporter through a mistake. I thought I was going to be a secretary until I was told I would be taking over the “women’s department.” It was the best “mistake” I’ve ever made. I started covering news a couple of years later, then took over the police, fire, courthouse beat for 20-plus years. I have covered every “beat” there is but my first love is writing people features. I had a very supportive boss who sponsored my state and national conferences and the best thing he did for me was turn me loose to decide what I would cover and choose feature stories I wanted to write. I started winning state awards a year after I began work and continued to win…. until NFPW stopped accepting paper entries. I have covered every news beat and have dabbled in advertising, starting an annual Bridal Edition and County Fair tabloid section. I chose the couples for the Bridal Edition, sold the ads, wrote the ad copy and features on the couple, and even laid it out until we went to computer layout. I have done the County Fair tabloid for 36 years, writing all of the copy and using photos I made at the fair in previous years for each 40-page issue.
Any career advice you would give?
If you like to write, don’t mind working 50-60 hours a week for a salary that isn’t fantastic and love talking to people and telling their stories, becoming a reporter might be a great career for you. If this doesn’t measure up to your standards, look for another career.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I always wanted to tap dance and play a guitar (but not at the same time)!
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Where I am right now — next door to my youngest daughter, son-in-law and two wonderful grandsons, 10 miles from my oldest daughter and son-in-law and five miles from my son.
What book are you reading?
Just finished Bob Sloan’s “Home Call,” which I bought at an NFPW conference some years ago. It had gotten covered up in a stack of books and I found it recently. Reading Bob’s book is like talking to and listening to a good friend. It’s the story of Appalachia that most of us don’t know. Great read!!! One that I didn’t want to put down to sleep and one I didn’t want to end. Reading is my passion. My next read will be “We Had A Job To Do,” a basic history of World War II through the eyes of those who served. Theresa Anzaldua selected several veterans to tell their personal stories, based on official U.S. government documents and her interviews with veterans.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I always wanted to tap dance, and signed up for an adult class at age 38. I didn’t learn a lot, but I satisfied that desire to tap. A couple of years later, a Middle Eastern belly dancer came to town to teach classes and a friend and I signed up for classes. It was a barrel of fun, especially our in-house “recital.” (I haven’t been bombarded with requests to perform…yet!)
Clara Cartrette, right, poses with other former NFPW Communicators of Achievement. They are from left, Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas, Cynthia Price, Karen Stensrud, Betty Packard, Donna Hunt and Cartrette.
Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?
I was so excited when I learned that NFPW President Charlotte Schexnayder and Mary Lou Webb were coming to North Carolina to affiliate N.C. Press Women, organized in 1942 when newsmen went to war and their wives took over newsrooms. But when Charlotte and Mary Lou got here, the NCPW board had changed its mind and didn’t want to affiliate because they wanted to remain a “pure” organization of only newspaper journalists … no advertising, magazine, radio, TV, public relations personnel, etc.
I was very excited about NFPW and had joined as a member at-large two months earlier. I was disappointed and embarrassed that Charlotte and Mary Lou had come so far to get the door closed in their faces. They invited me to join them in their hotel room and during a long discussion, “Peacemaker Charlotte” said if there was any dissention it would be better not to affiliate, but if as many as 10 were interested we could affiliate. I ran into the hall and gathered 13 members who wanted to join NFPW.
Charlotte and Mary Lou came back two months later to charter us. We chartered in June 1978 and I went to my first NFPW conference 10 days later. I got a royal introduction to NFPW, as Charlotte asked me to “bunk in” with her and husband Melvin because she had a presidential suite and didn’t need the extra bedroom. For years Melvin and I got odd looks when we yelled across the room, “Hey, Roommate!”
I had never missed a conference until 2015. I couldn’t justify the time, expense and wear and tear on my body to fly to Alaska for a three-day conference and I couldn’t take off any more time for the tours for the same reasons. Hope to see all of you in Kansas in September!
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