When a news day becomes personal

Carrie Torti’s smile will be greatly missed by many. 

What a difference three hours can make.

As I arrived to work on Monday, May 16, it was busy as usual. I was handed mail that needed my attention and was fielding calls about the possibility of a local connection to a plane crash in Tupelo, Miss.

Working with the editor of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, we had confirmed by mid-morning that the plane belonged to a local professor at Schreiner University, Dr. Jack Jackson.

There was no confirmation of whom was on the plane at this point.

Mondays are incredibly busy, as we prepare the newspaper for press early Tuesday mornings.

I continued the tasks at hand and took a moment to read the mail.

I was pleased to have received a note from my friend Carrie Torti. Carrie had worked for the Hill Country Community Journal for the nearly two years prior. We planned a special lunch for her and she wanted to show her appreciation.

Our staff continued with the hectic Monday morning routine and I continued to correspond with Rod Guajardo in Tupelo.

It was around 2 p.m. that I received a text from someone saying that my friends, Charles and Carrie Torti, were passengers in the plane that crashed and both had died.

Carrie’s note was still on my desk in front of me.

I called Rev. Stockton Williams of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and he confirmed the dreaded news.

At 4 p.m., I called the staff together and, among tears and disbelief, informed them that our friend and former co-worker had perished in the plane crash.

Being a journalist in a small town can be very difficult. Monday was one of the most difficult days I have experienced in 30 years of working as a news reporter in Kerrville.

Carrie came to work for us on a temporary basis to help with our bookkeeping.

The business was growing at such a fast pace that we needed some expert help planning for future growth.

The problem was, Carrie loved the job. She stayed much longer than planned.

She truly loved watching the newspaper grow and really was fascinated with all aspects of our work.

She often told me that her career in finance was always a single focus. She worked for large corporations and was in charge of a single area of the business.

Working for the Hill Country Community Journal, she said, was like “birthing a baby” and she enjoyed watching it grow. She said it was the first time that she could see the correlation of all aspects of the business … from taking newspaper subscriptions over the phone, to covering stories, to watching the newspaper go from blank pages to a finished product.

Even in her handwritten note she said “It’s fun to see you around town snapping photos, reminds me of the almost two good years working with you.”

In March, she announced plans that she would finally leave the newspaper to travel with Charles.

She said that Charles was retired and they had so many plans to travel and explore. This was what retirement was for and she and Charles were ready to embrace it.

Their adventures were cut short on Monday.

Carrie was so energetic, positive and loving. She loved to learn and was always sharing information on subjects she had researched.

She was incredibly healthy and made sure that Charles lived a healthy life as well.

She loved her family, her husband and her God.

When we had questions or dilemmas, our solutions always came to us by leaning on Scripture.

I will miss my friend. I will miss her laugh. I will miss her energy. But I think, most of all, I will miss her constant and infectious smile … and her pickles.

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