By: Dorothy Giobbe
After hearing about the heart attack suffered by
a local editor, residents and members of the business
community bought two ad pages for get-well messages sp.
AN EDITOR AT a weekly newspaper in North Carolina credits his community with nursing him back to health after he suffered a heart attack.
Earlier this year, Jerry Burns, editor of the 2,712-circulation Blowing Rocket, in Blowing Rock, N.C., was stricken by an early-morning heart attack in the newspaper’s office.
Thanks to a co-worker who called 911, emergency workers brought Burns to the local hospital where his condition stabilized.
But if the heart attack was a stunner, so was the outpouring of support the editor received from the citizens of Blowing Rock, a small resort community with a year-round population of about 1,100.
Burns is well-known in town, where the locals affectionately refer to him as “Mr. Blowing Rock.” In addition to his 28 years on the Rocket staff, Burns serves on the volunteer fire department and hospital board.
After hearing about the heart attack, some 132 residents and members of the business community bought ad space in the Rocket for a specially bannered, two-page section wishing Burns a speedy recovery.
Participants included local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, a third-grade class, the local police department, and assorted business advertisers and well-wishers.
Donna Hampton, who ran a get-well message from Johnson Paint, a local store, said that she jumped at the chance to place the ad.
“Jerry is the only newspaper editor in town, and he does anything for the community,” she said.
Johnson Paint is located in an area of town that is prone to flooding, and Hampton said that from time to time she has discovered Burns keeping watch in the middle of the night, ready to alert her if rising waters threaten the store.
Bill Cummings, publisher of Watauga Newspapers, which puts out the Rocket, said that Burns is the “quintessential newsman.
“News, production, advertising ? he does it all,” Cummings said. “He has contributed so much, and the ad was a tribute and expression of love of the highest order.”
For his part, Burns said he was “floored” by the show of support.
“All the cards and letters put me on my feet again,” he said. “It made me feel like over the past 28 years I’ve done something.
“I felt like I really should have died, to properly thank those people,” Burns joked. “It’s good to be on this side of the grass.”
On the front page of the Rocket just a week after the attack, Burns penned a column, thanking readers for the “hundreds of calls, letters and expressions of concern.
“I just want to let all my dear friends know I am ALIVE and recovering at home and very anxious to get back to work,” he wrote. “I look forward to greeting you soon from behind my office computer.”
Also in the Rocket that day, on Page 2, under the caption “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down,” cartoonist Carol Lea depicted Burns in hospital slippers and robe, attached to an IV machine, bolting from the hospital with briefcase in hand, while doctors and nurses chased after him.
As Burns is ? in his words ?”chomping at the bit to get back to work,” his doctor has recommended a modified schedule for the near future.