Braille Monitor                                                    January 2010

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Saluting the Editor

From the Editor: Barbara Pierce's more than twenty-one years of service as associate editor and editor of the Braille Monitor deserves more recognition than can be adequately given in the finite confines of this brief piece. In order to appreciate fully the volume of work and degree of devotion that she has offered (for the benefit of the general public, our membership, and our organizational record), you would have to review the more than two hundred issues and thirteen thousand pages of our magazine that have been published under her direction in the last two decades. More than this you would have to consider the variety of subjects covered and the degree of detailed knowledge that she had to accumulate before committing to print an article in these pages. Mostly, though, you would have to know the character of the woman--her meticulous attention to every detail and the abiding love and loyalty to our movement that has motivated her year-round unflagging labors--in order to assess her contribution fairly.

As I assume the editorship of the Braille Monitor, I want to acknowledge publicly the invaluable role that Barbara has played in preparing me for this incredible and humbling responsibility. She has been more than a professional colleague conscientiously imparting her technical expertise, management strategies, and political experience. She has offered me essential counsel about the traditional practices of our magazine, yet she has wisely urged me to find my own editorial voice and style. Most important, Barbara has been a supportive mentor and caring friend. I am especially grateful for her personal warmth and calm confidence in me. These qualities have helped to quiet the occasional doubts and fears that I have known during this transition. If I am equal to maintaining the standard of excellence that Barbara has set for the Braille Monitor, it will be in large part a testament to her influence and effort. I look forward to her guidance and help in the months and years to come. The Braille Monitor will be richer for her continued involvement.

We print below the reflections of several others who wanted to join me in recognizing the shape and substance that Barbara's editorial efforts have had on the magazine and the lives of its readers. These comments represent only a sample of the voices of those who together wanted to say thank you to Barbara for her years of dedicated service. Here they are:

Gary Wunder:
Writing a tribute to Barbara Pierce is one of the hardest assignments I've ever undertaken, but one where the honor I feel at being asked is unparalleled. When I think of Barbara, I think of the beauty which can be found in balance. What other word can convey the blending of intelligence and confidence that peacefully coexist with modesty and kindness in this wonderful human being, a soul who possesses the firmness to know the right thing to do and the compassion to understand when we often fall short of doing it?

When I look back over Barbara's editing of the Braille Monitor, I realize my favorite contributions are not her fair but tough investigative articles or her superb convention roundups. They are outstanding, but what I most appreciate and marvel at are her introductions. In those brief pieces are found not only the smooth transitions from one article to the next, but the setting of the stage to put what is to come in historical perspective, to show how it relates to the movement and our current challenges, and to hint at the things the article will help us learn. Many of these contributions are so well crafted that even the author of the article must sometimes say, "Wow, I never quite thought of it like that," or "Yes, that's what I've been saying all along."

Like many others I have been helped to shine in these pages, not only because I took the time to try writing something, but because someone saw a glimpse of what might be, and made it what I could not. Thanks so much for making the Braille Monitor a publication second to none in its interesting articles, grammatical correctness, and the balance necessary in the primary vehicle for communicating the hopes, dreams, obstacles, and successes of blind people in America.

Pam Allen:
When I was a sophomore in college in Ohio, I found out about a seminar for blind college students. The timing was perfect. I was ready to meet some competent and confident blind adults who could assist me as I navigated through college and beyond. Fortunately for me the seminar introduced me to Barbara Pierce along with leaders in the NFB of Ohio and the National Association of Blind Students. Little did I know that that seminar would mark the beginning of a new chapter in my life.

It was a tremendous turning point for me because it exposed me to the philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind. From the moment we met, I was impressed by Barbara. Her intelligence, grace, patience, and leadership were inspiring. I had many questions about the NFB, and she talked patiently with me throughout the year following the seminar. She connected me with Joanne Wilson and the Louisiana Center for the Blind. She served (and still serves) as a role model for me in many ways, both personally and professionally.

I began reading the Braille Monitor after attending the seminar. The publication introduced me to many important topics and helped me develop a true understanding of the issues we face as blind people. I came to realize the importance and the influence of this publication. Through her writings Barbara has helped many of us understand more thoroughly our mission and philosophy.

Her kindness, compassion, fierce determination, and advocacy have shaped many lives. I salute Barbara for her outstanding work. I thank her for her selflessness, her dedication, and her example. It is an honor and privilege to call her my friend and colleague.

Ramona Walhof:
Barbara always has words to express well what needs to be said. She is sensible, level-headed, and reaches out to people who need compassion and moral support. She has sparkle and imagination.

Following a weekend many years ago during which she read Federation literature, having exhausted all of her other reading material, Barbara has been steadfast and hard working in the NFB. Her speeches and writing have inspired us. Her judgment has guided us. Her commitment has held people together. Although Barbara may have fewer titles in the future, I have no doubt that she will still be at state and national conventions, finding new ways to contribute to the movement.


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