The Big Mac Blog

She would hate this but Celeste was Best

Former Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports editor Celeste Williams died on Tuesday night; she left a legacy that impacted far more than a newspaper.
Former Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports editor Celeste Williams died on Tuesday night; she left a legacy that impacted far more than a newspaper. STAR-TELEGRAM

Hopefully Celeste Williams is now surrounded by stray dogs in need of a home and love. In an endless garden that needs pruning and some water. And a few trees with Christmas ornaments. With close access to a TV that has WiFi and streaming, maybe with a Spurs’ game. A stack of her favorite Christopher Moore books within reach. All with the sounds of U2 and Wilco providing white noise.

The long-time sports editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram died on Monday night. The news of her passing left countless numbers of people thumbing through a thesaurus, in vain, to try to summarize what their friend and former boss meant, and what she did, for them.

A bad boss can make an employees’ life a living hell. In the case of Celeste Williams, she made a part of her employees’ lives heaven.

Aside from the fact Celeste cared deeply about newspapers and journalism, her priority was the people who worked for her and their state of mind. More than anything else Celeste wanted people to be happy and to enjoy their careers, and their lives.

Note to all bosses present and future — that matters. If you want loyalty, show that you give a d--- beyond the particulars of an expense report.

There are so many people who can look back in their lives and know that Celeste Williams made their run better, and more enjoyable. That’s the legacy that will endure longer than a successful spreadsheet.

She understood the job is important and should be taken seriously, but no professional enjoyment trumped life. That is why so many people are sad today, and so wish they could have a few more minutes with her. To say thank you. Not that she would have wanted it.

It is fitting that her boyfriend of nearly 40 years, David Martindale, will hold a party for Celeste rather than a typical memorial. Sadness was not her thing, and accordingly this will not be a small party.

She trusted her employees to do right by their job, and in turn she did right by them. Celeste was a fierce advocate for women in sports journalism, and journalism in general, but more than anything else she wanted people to be content.

Not to be forgotten was that her influence at the Star-Telegram extended outside the sports page. She also oversaw the Life and Arts section, and as the realities of a modern day newsroom shrank she added more to her pile of responsibilities.

She did it because she loved creating and assembling a newspaper. I am not sure what gave her more pleasure, creating a newspaper or creating a situation that made her employees’ life a bit easier.

Celeste did not have children but her understanding and compassion for those of us who did, and the complexities of the logistics that come with it, far exceeded the norm.

The list of items that she did for myself, my family and so many others, could fill the pages of a series of books.

While I will forever be grateful for what she did for my career, it was what she did for our daughter that will always make me smile widest. Celeste was big into Christmas, and specifically the gift-giving part of the holiday. She always wanted to give our daughter something before Santa’s arrival. Celeste wanted the reaction.

Celeste had a gift for finding the tailored gift for a kid. She bought a “phone” so our daughter could call the North Pole. She bought her a read-a-long book that included a talking puppy.

This most recent Christmas she bought our daughter a Fathead collection from Harry Potter. On our daughter’s bedroom wall is the life-size version of Hermione, the last gift from Celeste.

I sent her a picture of our daughter standing in front of Hermione on the wall, but I never heard back. Many of us who were aware that she was sick sent emails, and received similar responses.

Gratitude was simply not something she handled well. She was terrible at it. Giving was more her thing, and it’s one reason so many of us today are sad, because we simply could never return the favors.

Rest easy, boss. You will live on in the many lives you made better, easier, fuller, lighter, and happier.

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