THOMASVILLE — The pen is back in its holder. This time, for good.
After more than 40 years, longtime Thomasville Times-Enterprise reporter Patti Dozier has retired, and many of those whom she worked with over the years are wishing her well in her life’s next chapter.
“I would like to congratulate Ms. Dozier upon her retirement and express my gratitude to her for the service that she has provided to our community over her very productive career,” said Dusty Kornegay, the former superintendent of Thomas County Schools. “She understands and treasures the vital role of the press in general and newspapers in particular in protecting open government and a free society.”
Wallace Goodman, the former publisher of the Times-Enterprise, was more than a boss to Dozier. He also considers her a friend and a dedicated reporter.
Goodman has known Dozier, whose last day at the Times-Enterprise was May 31, for more than three decades.
“During this time, I have found her to be a loyal friend, highly professional journalist, and a tremendous asset to the Thomasville Times-Enterprise,” Goodman said. “Working for a newspaper as a reporter is never easy. As a reporter like Patti, you report the news.
Sometimes that news is personally objectionable. But you write the story. Sometimes that news is of a friend that has just passed or a news story you are tied to emotionally. But you write the story. Patti has written those stories and others for over 40 years.”
Dozier started when the Kelly family owned the paper and stayed after it was sold to Thomson (now Thomson Reuters) media company and eventually to its current owners, CNHI.
“Ed Kelly employed Patti as a cub reporter because he saw the quality of her writing and the integrity that guided her work,” Goodman said. “Patti has been the eyes and ears of Thomasville for all these years and has done it in a professional manner. As a reporter. you hear the cuss words from people you have written about and they call you every name in the book, but on the other side, there are those subjects of stories who send letters of thanks or flowers for the desk.”
Ben Hatcher, owner of Hatcher-Peoples Funeral Home, has known Dozier since her first days at the paper.
“She started doing funeral announcements before the fax machine became popular,” he said.
Hatcher said he slid the information under the door at night before it was due.
“When the electronic stage became the going thing, I became lost,” he said, “and that is where Patti and I got to be better friends. She would always go above and beyond to help my staff and I to make sure the funeral announcement was correct.”
Geoffrey Young pointed out that when Dozier took the time to interview someone, she did just that — she was meticulous.
“When talking either with or about Patti, it’s easy to keep it sweet, not so easy to keep it short,” he said.
Said Kornegay, “She always took the time to get to know those she interviewed, and she showed sincere interest in them.”
Young also pointed out he was struck by how Dozier didn’t put her own opinions into an article.
“Regardless of how I felt about the subject matter of a Patti Dozier story, I always admired her desire to stick to the facts,” he said. “Akin to classic, old school news and journalism, the story was the story — one never knew what Patti’s opinion was. She wasn’t merely a journalist, she was the journalist for Thomasville for over four decades and Patti delivered, day in and day out.
“Honestly, I cannot fathom the number of stories she has written, the people she has met, the sheer volume of the local history that she has been a part of,” Young said.
Kornegay worked with Dozier as county schools superintendent and in his other capacities in the community.
“She provided insights to our community on the operation of city and county government and the local school systems that the public would not have had without her relentless pursuit of the stories that were important to the public,” he said.
“She covered the biggest and most important stories in our community over many years.”
When he ran for city council against three other people, and won with 54% of the vote, Dozier wrote the stories on Hatcher and covered city council’s meetings.
“She was very detailed in her reporting of the meetings,” he said.
The duo also bonded over a shared interest — good restaurants.
“We would always try each other’s suggestions and talk about how we enjoyed the restaurant,” he said.
Hatcher acknowledged there was one disagreement between them.
“I have always believed in showing my appreciation to others when they do something for me,” he said, “but she taught me that I couldn’t do anything to show my appreciation to a news reporter. All I could do was say ‘thank you.’”
One other aspect of dealing with Dozier that struck with those she knew or covered is her affinity for cats — and her willingness to talk about them.
“She often had a story to share about her cats,” Kornegay said. “I will miss her articles in the paper, and I wish her a long, healthy, and happy retirement.”
Young said he too was glad to have met Dozier.
“I am honored to have crossed paths with Patti, to have witnessed her devotion to the story and, most of all, I hope she understands how much Thomasville will miss her news stories, how much I will miss her news stories,” he said.
Added Hatcher, “Patti is a great news reporter and writer. My wish for her is to have a great retirement, enjoy herself and spend a lot of free time with her cat.”
Goodman wished his former employee a well-earned retirement.
“Patti, I hope you enjoy every day of retirement with your kittens and friends,” he said. “You certainly have many friends in this town.”
Editor Pat Donahue can be reached at (229) 226-2400 ext. 1806.