Mary Garber, a sportswriter who said her idea of heaven would be "football season," died over the weekend at age 92. She started working at the Winston-Salem Journal and Twin City Sentinel as a sportswriter in 1946 and retired in 1997 although she kept working part-time until 2002.
As the story of her death in the Journal notes, "she was probably the first fulltime woman sportswriter at a daily newspaper in the country, and she certainly had the longest career."
Garber took seriously her role as a role model for women who aspired to cover sports. "I thank you in the name of all young girls around the country," she said in accepting the 2005 Associated Press Sports Editors Red Smith Award.
Sports journalists all over the country -- men and women -- remember Garber as a pioneer and a class act. AWSM President Jenni Carlson, who noted that Garber didn't get access to a locker room at the ACC basketball tournament until 30 years after her sportswriting career started, added: "Mary didn't let that roadblock get in her way. No roadblock got in her way."
Lisa Mickey, senior writer for the Duramed FUTURES tour, recalled being mentored by Garber, who gave Mickey books to read and encouraged her career. "Mary never worked for the money or the by-lines. She did it because it was in her and she loved every interview and put her heart into every word," Mickey wrote in an e-mail.
To hear Garber interviewed about her career, visit the Washington Press Club Foundation oral history project.