Christina Hall was real friend to readers

Published 12:03am Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Last week was a week to forget.

The news that stopped many of us — at the newspaper and in the community — in our tracks wasn’t going to make national or international headlines.

It wasn’t even going to make the Jackson evening news.

But the surprising news that longtime Democrat columnist and former lifestyle editor Christina Hall had died suddenly of natural causes was significant news to thousands of local residents.

Christina was a friend as well as a colleague to many of us here at The Democrat.

I recall fondly her early years working in our newsroom. As she always seemed to do in life, Christina came at her work in a unique and direct manner. She was blunt at times, but always with a smile and a laugh.

In a world of quiet, overly polite people — the kind who make you guess where you stand with them — Christina was real. If she didn’t like something you did, no worries, she’d tell you exactly what she thought.

But with that direct approach, also came a sense of caring that only a mother can have. Based on what I know of her, Christina was a one heck of a good mom.

Christina didn’t care who you were or where you were from, if someone needed help, she’d give it.

If she received a call for help, she’d be there — fast.

I watched her first hand as she began working with the newspaper and interacting with the public, first through her food columns — regularly peppered with personal tidbits about her family — then later as our Lifestyle editor.

For a period of time, she was a good momma to our newsroom, steering our young reporters and photographers out of trouble and offering up good advice to any who asked for help.

Newspapers are interesting things. We’re easy targets, particularly when we make typos or errors. Christina — like all of us — made her share, but she didn’t shirk away from them, taking any criticism in stride.

How she handled such — including one of my favorite Christina moments — proved to me she had excellent newspaper chops.

Through what I recall was eventually proven to be a court error in not properly recording the payment of a ticket, Christina was arrested on a bench warrant for having a suspended license, I believe.

She was quick to step up and say that her name would be printed in the following day’s newspaper just like all other arrests. She would have no special favors, Christina said, which was good news to me because I didn’t want to have to tell her publishing her arrest wasn’t going to be optional anyway.

That did not, however, prevent her from giving former Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff a piece (or maybe several) of her mind.

Make no mistake; he knew exactly where she stood after the conversation.

That was how Christina was — real — and perhaps that’s why so many of us grew to love her and the Hall family, particularly as she shared their ups and downs and moments of joy and moments of tragedy, all in black and white for the whole world to see.

Putting your thoughts and heart down on paper takes guts, and through her work Christina was clearly among the bravest people I ever knew.

Friends and family mourned Christina’s sudden loss last week, but as her son, Matthew, suggested at her funeral — she’d be upset if we were all moping around and crying.

She’d tell us to just deal with it and do the best we can.

We’ll do just that, Christina, but know that you’ll be greatly missed by all of us here The Democrat and many, many of our readers — some of which only knew you through your column.

Though we want to forget your death, we will never forget your life.

 

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.