By: E&P Staff
Betty Way probably was most the first woman running circulation for a major U.S. newspaper, according to The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa., which announced her death June 7 at age 69.
Way, who retired in 2003, was raised on a farm, graduated high school at the top of her class, then joined the newspaper as a circulation secretary, moving up to circulation office manager and city circulation manager before Ray Gover, named publisher in 1981, promoted her to circulation director.
Way also became the first woman president of the Inter-State Circulation Managers Association (Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware and the District of Columbia).
Publisher and President John Kirkpatrick noted that Way continued working on her family’s farm while employed at the newspaper, where Gover described her as industrious and compassionate. “Her thumbnail description of herself was that of a Pennsylvania-Dutch farm girl who never strayed too far from her roots,” Gover told the paper.
T.W. Burger quotes the former publisher’s story of how Way came to work at the newspaper: “There were two classified ads that attracted her. One was for a receptionist at the Jewish Community Center and the other a clerk in the circulation department. Since it was her first stop on the drive from her home, she went to the community center, had an interview, was given instructions on how to answer the phone — ‘shalom’ — and then given a little test as a receptionist. The phone rang, she picked it up and said distinctly, ‘Shazam.'”
As much as she liked working with young carriers, Way presided over the transition to adults when newspapers had to be delivered at a very early hour. She also was in charge when district sales managers moved form offices to distribution centers — the source of a dispute with Kirkpatrick over proper attire. They agreed on his suggestion of Patriot-News blue denim work shirts, he recalled for the paper. When the shirts arrived, he liked them, only to notice that she had ordered designer shirts.