Opinion & Editorial

Honoring a legendary local newspaper woman

I dedicate my column this week to an amazing woman who served as the editor and publisher of my weekly columns for the Fern Ridge Review, later known as the Fern Ridge-Tribune News headquartered in Veneta and Junction City. Sadly, Pam Petersdorf passed away on Nov. 14, 2022. 

Pam worked, for many years, beginning in 1972, as the receptionist and office manager for the former, very successful weekly community newspaper, the West Lane News, and took on the same duties for its Junction City “sister” publication, the Tri-County News, during the time when Mike and Sandy Thoele owned and published both newspapers. The WLN was sold in 2010, and “later shut down.” It was then that a new publication covering the West Lane area, the Fern Ridge Review, was begun and I was asked to begin writing a Lorane column for it.

In 2012, the new owner of the FRR, who also owned The Creswell Chronicle, asked me if I would allow him to begin publishing my weekly column in The Chronicle, too. I agreed to submit the same column each week to both newspapers. 

Pam continued in her established role until she and her family were able to buy both newspapers and, in 2013, she stepped into a new role as publisher and owner. She contacted me and asked me if I would continue sending in weekly columns. Other staff members were equally dedicated to the idea that the area needed its own newspaper, and stayed on, as well.

All during this time, I never met Pam in person, but I was very impressed with her deep love and desire to provide the West Lane community with local news. It was important to her to give parents the opportunity to see their kids’ names in print when Tom Page covered most of the athletic events and other reporters covered other school events at several local high schools in the area. She made sure someone was on hand to report on and cover other local meetings and events including city council meetings — in fact, Sandy Larson, Veneta’s own mayor, was one of the best and most prolific reporters for the newspaper for many years until her death in January 2019. 

Every one of us respected Pam for all that she did for the West Lane community through the years. Jeneca Jones, former editor of the West Lane News (2003- ‘07) summarized it in these words:

“Revived, albeit with a new name, the paper’s tagline became ‘Local News About Local People.’ It encapsulated what she felt was most important about a community newspaper. It was important that the library events were published. And that someone went to take photos at the church’s annual barbecue. And that people knew what the city and the school districts were up to. And that a mention was made when someone received an award for doing something good. And that school sports were covered. And that a new business story was published when someone opened their doors. And when someone passed away, it was important to tell their story. She understood the value.

“Newspapering was her connection to the community. Even if you didn’t know her, you knew there was a community newspaper you could count on to bring you the local news. Pam played a quiet but significant role for years, working at the paper throughout her life and finally owning and operating it, stoking the fire that kept this newspaper alive when many other community papers were dying. Her contribution to her community was truly a gift. And we are all better for it. She was also a good friend, and that’s something I will never forget.”

Pam was someone I admired immensely. She encouraged me to write from the heart and stressed the need for everyone on her staff to maintain a voice for their various communities. Ours was a virtual relationship, it’s true, but it was a friendship that I valued and Pam Petersdorf’s passing will be felt by all of us who were touched by her community spirit. 

The fate of the Fern Ridge-Tribune News is unsure at this point. Publication has been suspended until Pam’s family can figure out what can be done. In the meantime, Pam will be missed deeply. My deep condolences go out to her family at this time.



View this profile on Instagram


The Chronicle (@thechronicle1909) • Instagram photos and videos