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LEWISTOWN – Staff at The Sentinel and the Mifflin County community not only lost a friend with the passing of Brad Siddons, but a lion among reporters whose contributions to local media spanned 35 years and touched five decades.

Siddons, who died on Friday after battling cancer for more than a decade, left his mark not only on the newspaper but also on countless young reporters who had the opportunity to work under him.

Siddons was the editor of The Sentinel when current publisher Ruth Eddy became chief commercial officer in September 1991.

“Over the years Brad has read thousands of letters to the editor, listened to countless callers, including Open Line callers, and wrote and edited thousands of articles, blogs and editorials.” Eddy remembered. “I remember many years when Brad would spend hours perusing the pages and pages of Sentinels for articles to submit for awards. Years ago, these entries had to be the actual copies of the paper and the selected items had to be mailed or hand-delivered to be entered correctly. As Brad went the extra mile to make sure the others were recognized, I remember more than once Brad would complete entries on the day they were due and drive them to Harrisburg to submit. Not only has he submitted articles for our newspaper, but he has also been a judge for articles from other states.

“The Sentinel and the journalists who worked here were the recipients of these awards, but Brad’s work made it possible. “

One of Eddy’s favorite memories of Brad was his role as “tent guru” and barbecue expert at the company’s annual picnic.

“At that time, it was customary for the summer picnic to be prepared and served by department heads. Said department heads would load the chairs and tables from the neighboring church across the street and lead them to the parking lot in front of the newspaper where they would be unloaded and installed ”, she recounted. “At one point, an adventurous manager decided that we needed to assemble a tent for the day. “

Not a basic nesting tent, she explained.

“This looked like a 100 piece jigsaw puzzle that tested the skills of most Boy Scouts. Brad was responsible for leading the other leaders to complete the task of assembling the tent. Everyone was happy that Brad could keep the managers in line to do it. “

Nicknamed “Big Bad Brad” at those picnics, she said, with the tent in place, “Brad took over as grill supervisor. No sheets would be needed on Brad’s watch! He would then grill each person’s hamburger (s) and / or hot dog (s) to order. Many of the Sentinel employees had a perfectly grilled burger or hot dog in Brad’s hand.

“I got to talk to Brad just a few days ago. He told me that he was at peace with his state of health and at peace with God. Brad, when you’re in Heaven, save me a burger, good average with cheese please!

Lifestyles editor-in-chief Jeff Fishbein also met Brad in the 1990s, long before his first stint as a Sentinel employee.

“I designed advertisements for a destination farm and we wanted to place them in all the newspapers in the region”, said Fishbein. “I was a little too high-tech for the late Jim Tunall, the advertising rep I worked with, trying to serve ads electronically before the Internet age. He sent me over to Brad’s to try and make things work.

Fishbein took over from Siddons as The Sentinel’s in-house computer scientist, a side task appreciated by both.

“I was a veteran of writing before I came to Lewistown the first time” – he was a sports editor when Scott Franco left, then held that position for over a decade after returning to the newspaper in 2005 – “and like Brad, I believed in old school journalism. We both wanted to have the story first, but more importantly, we wanted to get it right.

“When he retired, I missed the Friday evenings we shared a lot, his last connection to borderline production. We would discuss the most mundane points of style and grammar. I learned as much from Brad as I learned from any classroom.

The Sentinel was a family affair for the Siddons. His wife Elaine was an editor at the turn of the 21st century, and his youngest daughter, Chelsea, also spent time in the newsroom.

“Elaine was my editor the first time I worked here, and I had to frustrate her endlessly” Fishbein burst out laughing. “Scott Franco was so quiet, when during football deadlines I was always frantic.”

Editor-in-chief Brian Cox followed Siddons’ path to the biggest newsroom seat, but not before working regularly on Friday nights as a page designer while Siddons served as editor.

“The one thing I remember the most about Brad is that he never did anything just because that’s how it was done. “ Cox said. “Things had to have a purpose that made sense. If I explained to him why I was doing something, he wasn’t afraid to play devil’s advocate and make sure the reasoning was sound. He was very proud of what he was doing and it made our newspaper better because of it.

The two also shared a love of golf and often chatted about it while working together.

“Brad always asked me if I had the chance to go out and play lately” Cox remembered. “He liked my attitude when I told him I only play golf because I like it, not because I’m good at it. Sadly, we never got to play together, but I know that was one of the things that gave her both great pleasure and endless exasperation.

“Those of us who knew Brad and worked with him will be sorely missed. “

Buffie Boyer may be the longest-serving Sentinel employee in Siddons time here. Hired in 1994 while still in college, she lasted four years after her retirement, serving primarily as a photographer and later as a business journalist.

“The Juniata Valley was fortunate to have such a man dedicated to telling his story” she said. “He was a man of ethics, but above all, a man who loved his family and the Lord.”

Former editor Jim Dible arrived two years after Siddons first entered the newsroom in 1979, and admitted he was nervous after coming out of the news world and now being in charge of a whole log.

“One of the things that made it easier for me was the talented editorial department. Among those from whom I learned the most, even with my experience in the news, there was Brad Siddons ”, Dible wrote in 2014, when Siddons retired.

“During our joint tenure from 1981 to 1994, Brad taught me the equivalent of several textbooks on how to be a stable, principled journalistic leader with high standards for our readers to meet every day. Brad’s emotions in a sometimes emotionally charged news environment have never gone too high or gone too low. It was more discreet for my more nervous personality, and it worked very well ”, said Dible. “He also had to put up with his editor (me) being in the news occasionally because of my volunteer life at MCIDC and Lewistown Hospital. But we understood that no one would be able to print anything in The Sentinel because of me, or likewise that no one would be able to keep anything out of The Sentinel because of me.

“I know some people never believed this, but Brad and I know to this day that this is the pact we made and kept.”

Dible recalled Siddons’ role as Sentinel, and his employees have adapted to changes in technology, changes in publishers, and changes in ownership.

“His balanced approach to everything has contributed significantly to the success of The Sentinel”, said Dible.

Cate Barron began her media career on MERF radio, came to The Sentinel in the mid-1980s, and is now president of PA Media Group, which owns The (Harrisburg) Patriot and She too considered working with Siddons to be an educational experience.

“Brad was such a great human being. I am one of the many journalists who had the chance to work with him at The Sentinel ”, she said. “He was an outstanding journalist, a great editor and a patient teacher. He wanted to stay calm and continue under the toughest pressures in the newsroom. But, best of all, he brought so much good humor and fun to everything he did. He will be sorely missed.

County Commissioner Kevin Kodish spent time in the newsroom with Siddons before taking a public relations role that lasted 29 years. He also knew Chelsea from his more famous profession, basketball coach.

“I had the chance to observe and learn from Brad Siddons. These weren’t always the words that helped me learn valuable lessons, either. Sometimes just seeing how Brad dealt with sudden problems was a lesson in itself, ” Kodish said Siddons retired.

“When I think of the words to describe Brad, the first that come to mind are smart, self-reliant, successful, honest and modest.”

Kodish, like others, saw Siddons as being first and foremost about quality.

“Brad has demonstrated personal standards of excellence that have helped The Sentinel win numerous awards over the years. Brad never seemed to be too high or too low about rewards, issues or issues; what has always counted for him is the quality of the product produced for the benefit of readers ”, he said. Brad was consistent and genuine, and his integrity was exceptional.

“Brad never bragged about the good things he did – he let the job do the talking. For him, there was always other work to be done.

Joining the team in 1988, longtime sports journalist and editor Scott Franco said he felt like a member of the family under Siddons.

“I had planned to stay a year. I stayed 15. I would like to think that was one of the reasons I stayed so long ”, he said.

“As a sports reporter, then as a sports writer, Brad taught me a lot along the way during my time in Mifflin County, but the one thing he taught me more than anything was patience. This is something I still think about today. “

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