EASTON — Star Democrat Editor Connie Connolly retired after an award-winning journalism career on Wednesday, March 31.
During her 40-some years as a freelance writer, journalist and high school journalism teacher, Connolly received 39 awards from different organizations, including eight from the just-announced 2021 Delaware Press Association Communications Contest.
Connolly is thankful for the opportunities she’s had throughout her career.
“From my first days with the Queen Anne’s County Record-Observer as a recording secretary for the Sudlersville Willing Workers 4-H Club, I have loved writing stories and reports,” said Connolly, a Queen Anne’s County native. “It’s taken me many years to embrace my God-given talent.”
APG Media of Chesapeake President Jim Normandin congratulated Connolly on her retirement and thanked her for the impact she had, both within the company and in the community.
“Connie’s influence within our news organization, and the many communities she touched is far reaching, deeply meaningful for some, forever meaningful for others, but indelible for all. It’s a trait she has been gifted with, one we will miss as she transitions into her retirement and the next chapter of her life,” Normandin said. “We are forever grateful and honored for Connie sharing her professional life with us at APG Chesapeake!”
Mike Sunnucks, executive editor of The Star Democrat, also lauded Connolly’s dedication to journalism and the community on the Eastern Shore.
“Connie Connolly has been a backbone and lifeblood for our newspaper and our community. She loves and cares about the Shore and telling the stories of the people who are making a difference here,” Sunnucks said. “Connie is a talented writer, and we hope she brings some of those talents to our paper and our community in the future.”
Biff Haufe, sports editor for The Star Democrat, praised Connolly’s skill and professionalism.
“We were extremely fortunate to have Connie grace our pages, newsroom and community,” Haufe said. “As an editor, I admired the stability and strength she provided during the tumultuous times of COVID-19. And I knew every time I asked her to edit one of my stories, the final product would be better.”
News editor Angela Price echoed his sentiments.
“I could always count on Connie’s eagle eye to catch mistakes before they hit print, and she had a knack for bringing the stories she told to life,” Price said. “But beyond Connie’s writing and editing skills, she is a genuinely nice person, pleasant to share tasks with and help solve problems. I’m definitely going to miss her.”
Connolly also worked closely with APG Media of Chesapeake’s other Mid-Shore publications, helping to highlight the communities on the Shore. Kent County News Editor Daniel Divilio credited Connolly’s skill at bringing stories to life.
“Connie’s stories highlight life here on the Shore. I’ve loved reading her pieces about our community and those who make it such a special place,” Divilio said. “Her voice will be missed.”
Bay Times and Record-Observer Editor Hannah Combs echoed his sentiments.
“Connie’s passion for the community she has served is one of her most admirable traits,” Combs said. “Her caring for her colleagues and the community will be missed greatly.”
Connolly said she has enjoyed the opportunity to connect with the communities on the Shore; and although she’s looking forward to spending more time with her husband Gary, traveling throughout the country to see their children and grandchildren, there are things she’s sad to leave behind.
“I’ll miss the people — the people I met, the people I interviewed,” Connolly said. “I’ll miss learning things and figuring out a way to impart that knowledge in a meaningful way to readers.”
Though it’s a subject that’s not as exciting as crime reporting, Connolly enjoyed the challenge that covering local government budget hearings provided.
“I had to figure out a way to engage the reader so that they keep reading,” she said. “The most rewarding stories were those that had a lot of moving parts that I had to figure out how to tell.”
One such story was “Taking on Goliath,” covering two Caroline County women who found a way to help small towns throughout Maryland.
“They found words in the Bay Restoration Fund that opened up huge amounts of funding for small towns all across the state to upgrade their wastewater treatment systems, and they are heroes to every small town in the state,” Connolly said.
She credits her curiosity for helping her find the unique stories on the Eastern Shore.
“It just shows that if you keep your ear to the ground and you keep talking to people, you will eventually find something fascinating that you then want to share with everyone else,” she said.
She also thanked the readers who made her career so rewarding.
“I was blessed,” she said. “Without readers and interviewees, there is no story. And hopefully, I got it right.”