I first met Karen Gardner in the newsroom of the North Adams Transcript. We'd both been working for the New England Newspapers for years but our paths had never crossed.
We sat side by side, bonding over "Survivor," tales of children and family, the intricacies of entertainment pages, breaking news and the daily drudge. A year later, MCLA smartly plucked her from a ream of resumes to become its communication specialist.
I left the Transcript the following year; as often happens, we went along our separate ways, only occasionally meeting up. And she sent me lots of well-written press releases that saved me time and effort.
Life handed her a couple tough years, but through it all she maintained her composure, her good nature and professionalism. Now she's found a new - and well-deserved - love and is flying off to Texas to marry into a new family and find new adventures.
As her MCLA colleagues said earlier this week, "she always carries herself with such grace."
So for all we were happy for her newfound joy, there was sadness, too, at her going away party last week at MCLA's alumni office. Karen got plenty of reminders of her time at the college (including a towel) and well wishes from President Mary Grant and even Mayor John Barrett III.