Bear with me as we take time to remember Dee, for more than 23 years my South Dakota Bride, but much more than just the local newspaper editor’s wife.
Dee was a force and personality all her own. Born DeAnn Joy Galbavy on April 28, 1952, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, at age 14 she was one of six children left fatherless by her dad’s untimely death.
When we met in the fall of 1970 Dee had come to Springfield to attend Baptist Bible College, and subsequently took a job as a bus girl at Bonanza Sirloin Pit, where I was an assistant manager. By Christmas we were an item of scandalous talk — a BBC freshman and an SMS senior — and in March we were married in her church.
For reasons I’ve never known, Dee had “unsettling” experiences before we met, living for a time with a couple from church, for a summer with an aunt in Washington State, and another summer on a mission trip in Taos, New Mexico (where she developed a passion for sopapillas).
Though not the eldest sibling, at the time Dee seemed the glue that held her disparate family together. Her older sister was married to a musician and living in Arkansas, her older brother was a US Marine veteran recently returned from Vietnam, her younger sister was a college student, and two younger brothers still lived at home with their mother in Sioux Falls. Though just 18, she was way more mature than I was at 23.
Dee and I were scarcely wed when Uncle Sam called and we headed for North Carolina, where our daughter, Angela, was born on the last day of 1971. Not quite five years later, while I was news editor in Bolivar, a second, girl, Melissa came along.
Wife and mother were arguably Dee’s most important roles, but along the way she was a bus girl, deli worker, waitress, heat-seal machine operator, store clerk and a newspaper advertising director, none of which allowed her to finish college.
Though she never aspired to a newspaper advertising career, she excelled at it — all the while feeling insecure because she did not have the college degree touted by many of her contemporaries.
She might have realized that goal, had she not lost her life on Sept. 30, 1994, three years and four months after our eldest daughter was killed in a car crash.
Cancer got the blame, but I have to believe it was a mother’s grief that claimed the life of my South Dakota bride.
Yet, she is remembered, not just by friends and family, but by legions of newspaper advertising professionals. Shortly after her passing, Dee’s peers on the Missouri newspapers made her their “Old Pro Award” namesake.
Today the award is officially the Missouri Press Advertising and Marketing Executives Dee Hamilton Memorial Sales Pro Award. The most recent recipient was Pam Simmons, senior account executive with the St. Louis American Newspaper.
Let that soak in.
Dee’s name hangs on the wall in that big St. Louis newspaper, as well as dozens more around the state.
We should all be proud. She was Buffalo’s “Old Pro” before even she knew.
Copyright 2023, James E. Hamilton; email firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of his works in Ozarks RFD 2010-2015, available online from Amazon or from the author.
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