My journalism professor, mentor, and guiding light, Dr. Charlie Marler, died May 27, 2022, and I am creating a series of blog posts about the impact he had on my and his other former students’ journalism and media careers. I am bringing his colleagues and others into the conversation as well. In this post, I share the text of Ron Hadfield's remarks from the Celebration of Life service, held June 1, 2022, at the University Church of Christ, Abilene, TX.
Fourth Post: Ron Hadfield's Remarks at Dr. Charlie Marler's Celebration of Life Service, June 1, 2022
The Marlers shared Charlie’s 89th home-cooked birthday lunch with me last month, a feast including two of his favorites: barbeque pork ribs and a decadent chocolate cake. The conversation was candid and comforting, and it reminded me of moments years ago around the same table between this college student and two of the most godly people I’ve ever known.
Charlie Marler was my college professor, my professional mentor and my Texas Father, and not always in that order. I did not aspire to be a college professor, but in most other ways, my journalistic apple, so to speak, did not fall far from his tree.
By task and by default, we have found ourselves serving as unofficial historians for Abilene Christian, for a combined total of more than 100 years, a number I have a hard time grasping.
That’s a privilege and a responsibility we enjoyed but took seriously: a blessing with, at times, a heavy yoke. In short, we learn about our shared alma mater, store the facts where others can hopefully find them later, and tell stories about its people and moments that matter most.
Together, we have worked across the street at a place where the late, great academic dean Walter H. Adams once said he was a member of the church, at the institution where he was worth more to the church than anywhere else. We saw our work that way, as mission and vocation.
For just short of 40 years, I have had the often unenviable task of proofing and editing the best editor I knew.
Even at the end of his eighth decade, Charlie could work circles around most people half his age. His work ethic, like my own parents, has been an inescapable inheritance. Before his stroke and fall last week, he likely was online, at age 89, researching something to benefit his latest project for me or his own interest on ACU’s behalf.
Over time, kinks began to show in his armor, thanks to failing vision, a slightly leaky memory and the challenge of keeping up with "Associated Press Stylebook" editors who changed their mind on punctuation and usage like most of us change our socks.
But he genuinely appreciated the extra set of eyes I brought to our relationship, and we regularly exchanged drafts of our work. I sought his counsel on difficult days, and he always wanted to know what was new in my world. Over time, my professor became my teammate and confidant.
About the Author:
Regina L. Burns, M.A., Project+, is an award-winning multimedia editor and journalist, specializing in Black history and African American stories at Harvest Reapers Communications. Her work has been published in Texas Highways magazine, WFAA-TV, The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as well as The Commercial Appeal, the Tri-State Defender and The Flyer, among others.