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Letter from the Editor: Nadine Kofman taught us through her writing

by on April 25, 2019 12:31 PM

One sure trait of an old-school journalist is a blunt way with words. Direct, economical, no pretense. And always looking to inform.

That was Nadine Kofman’s style, and it was one of the things I enjoyed about working with her.

Nadine, who passed away March 30 at the age of 75, wrote the “About Town” column for Town&Gown from January 2002 until December 2018. Until his death in September 2009, she shared the column with her husband, State College Mayor Bill Welch, and for a stretch afterward she shared it with their daughter, Justine Welch Mastin.

When I started as editor of Town&Gown in late April 2017, Nadine’s column (for the June issue) was the first thing to cross my computer screen. I would later learn this was no coincidence. Nadine was always the first writer to file.

While Nadine used her columns to educate us about the history of the region, her writing consistently looked forward.

Not long after Nadine filed what turned out to be her final “About Town” column late in 2018, she was already planning the next one. That column, scheduled for publication in February 2019, was to be a “generally biographical column with lots of downtown Bellefonte and some State College references,” she wrote to me.

But sadly, her health wouldn’t allow it. When she wrote to let me know that – well in advance of publication, as always – she was concerned about whether I had something to “plug in” its place.

Nadine never stopped thinking about community – and never stopped thinking ahead. I last heard from her in late January, when she called to encourage us to do a story on the Penn State Powwow coming up in April, noting what a great event it is. We did the story, of course.

In the lead of her final “About Town” column – which ran in December on new life for the old First National Bank building downtown – Nadine wrote:

While some historic pieces of downtown State College have been demolished, the new year will see the column-fronted, stately structure at 122 West College Avenue standing.

The inside, though, will have significant changes in keeping with its new life. The locked building – where banking was established more than 100 years ago – will reopen next spring. No longer handling currency, comestibles will be served.

In the note she sent me when she submitted the column, Nadine wrote:

Here it is. I've gotten praise from a notable reader for using the term "comestibles." I figure, anyone who doesn't know it can look it up. Sometimes, what you write teaches. 



Mark Brackenbury

Editorial Director

[email protected]


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