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Hewitt will be ‘purely’ missed

DGKN archive photo
Collen Hewitt, of Kidron, passed away last week. She retired from working at the Kidron Auction five years ago when this photo was taken. Hewitt is known for many things in the community along with providing the Purely Local column for The Dalton Gazette & Kidron News for decades.

KIDRON  On page 8 of the Jan. 29, 1975, edition of The Dalton Gazette & The Kidron News, the popular and charming “Purely Local” column began that week ironically with a brief report on the author herself.

“Colleen Hewitt is home after spending a week at Doctors Hospital undergoing Xrays and treatment,” this particular column from more than 45 years ago begins just under the “Purely Local” headline typed in bold uppercase at the top of the page and followed by the Kidron correspondent’s name and number.

Ever tasteful, she did not elaborate, and went on to the next item. With her ear to the ground, and her finger on the pulse of the community, Colleen Hewitt had a nose for news and a heart for her friends and neighbors and what mattered to them.

She provided more to people than their weekly dose of news about their neighbors. She served as a poll worker during elections. She worked at the Kidron Auction. She was active in her church and was a member of Salem Mennonite Church’s Women in Mission sewing group. She was a wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was a beloved friend and neighbor to many. Hewitt passed away Sept. 7 at Shady Lawn Nursing Home. She was 85. Her husband, Rodney, died March 29.

“A light has gone out in our Little Swiss Village that we all call home,” wrote Linda Boyd, who fondly remembered working for more than 40 years with Hewitt at the polls during elections and becoming friends.

“I served at the Kidron Precinct for 40 plus years,” Boyd wrote in response to a callout on the Gazette & News’ Facebook page. “Colleen was there when I came on board. I loved working with her during the elections. She was so welcoming from the beginning, never one to not share her knowledge with the new gal. We ran a smooth ship but always had a wonderful time becoming friends. Colleen was a great lady and I was proud to be her friend. A great seamstress and dedicated to her home community. God bless, My Friend. I will miss your smile and your friendship. Prayers and deepest sympathy to the entire Hewitt Family.”

In the callout on The DGKN Facebook page, many offered condolences to Hewitt’s family. Tracy Boneyard recalled Hewitt teaching Sunday School for many years at Salem Mennonite. Pearl Basinger said she attended Dalton High School with Colleen. Karen Basinger wrote that she would miss her and called her a great lady and friend.

“I will miss her as a neighbor!” Rose Miller wrote. “Always had a smile! She will be missed in our neighborhood.”

Neighbor and friend Jean Stanco remembers how Hewitt welcomed her family to the Kidron community 45 years ago.

“Our family moved to Kidron in the fall of 1977, Colleen welcomed us to this new community, helped us get acclimated in Wayne County,” Stanco wrote in an email. “She loved her home town, family, friends, neighbors, and Salem church. She’s helped and carried on her mother Stella’s legacy for Women In Mission with all the beautiful quilts, comforters, sewing kits and labor’s of love she provided to make others lives better. She was a true servant of God to others.”

Another friend and neighbor shared similar sentiments.

“Colleen was a good friend and mentor,” Cindy Sohar wrote in an email. “She was the head of Salem Mennonite sewing circle for years. My mother taught me how to sew but Colleen taught me how to make comforter tops, bind comforters, make school kit bags and how to use every scrap of material that our sewing circle had. At times, it seemed like we would be caught up, but she always had more projects that kept us going – all going to help someone in need.”

Hewitt also worked at The Kidron Auction. She officially retired from the auction about five years ago – on her 80th birthday. Kidron Auction owner John Sprunger told The DGKN for her retirement story that ran Aug. 2, 2017 that Hewitt was a numbers person and a people person. She was a perfectionist and also a great conversationalist.

In its heyday, Hewitt’s newspaper column was inches and inches long. She wrote for her hometown newspaper for decades and penned hundreds of columns. People would bring items to her and call her when she worked in a little office in Kidron.
Sue Hayes has childhood memories of Hewitt when Hayes’ parents, Glenn and Marge Smith, owned The Dalton Gazette & The Kidron News. The two papers merged under their ownership in the early 1970s. Hewitt worked with the Smiths as well as Francis Woodruff, who took over after the Smiths. Hayes remembers visiting Hewitt in a newspaper office in Kidron.

“She worked in the tiniest office in Kidron,” Hayes said.

People would drop off birth announcements and other news, make payments or pick up a paper in Kidron, Hayes recalled. Hewitt had a way about her that encouraged people to trust her and confide in her and share information. She likely knew much more about people and events than what was printed in the paper. But she kept her column to the point and full of entertaining tidbits and slices of life that local residents would find important.

“It was just priceless,” Hayes recalled. “She was bubbly. She was just the sweetest person. She knew what was going on in Kidron. There was no doubt. She would be the Kidron contact for events and little stories.”

Hayes noted that she didn’t think Hewitt ever had the title of reporter. But her name appeared in the paper under “Purely Local” and she reported on a lot of news.

“She was an integral part of the paper,” Hayes said.

Francis Woodruff owned and ran the paper for more than 30 years from about 1983 to 2015. Kurt and Heather Immler purchased The Dalton Gazette & Kidron News in 2016 and Hewitt would still submit an item or two from time to time and the Immlers enjoyed meeting the Hewitts at their Kidron home.

“She knew everybody in Kidron and wanted to make sure the community knew about births, deaths and who was in the hospital or who may have had an unfortunate accident, or who were visitors at someone’s house,” Woodruff wrote in an email. “She really cared about her community and the people would call her to list their news but she did a lot of calling people also to find out if they had any personal news item. She made it her business to really know everything that went on in the community, because she loved Kidron and the people.
“It’s sad that kind of news is gone in newspapers but it is mostly replaced by people on Facebook. Her column was very popular and contributed to a lot of people who lived out-of-state subscribing to the Dalton Gazette and Kidron News. People said it was the first thing they would read.”

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