AMHERST - The Amherst Daily News has seen a lot of reporters come and go over the years, but none have made an exit quite like Gordon K. Fenny.
I first heard the story of Fenny a few years ago from the late Doug Harkness, who was managing editor of the paper when Fenny was employed there for six weeks in 1981. He spoke of how publisher Earl Gouchie hired the reporter after a conversation and a handshake in his Lawrence Street office.
"Earl took great pride in being able to hire people off the street, and finding talent in unexpected places," said Harkness, who passed away in 2009. "This guy walked in... he was well-dressed, he had some fancy camera equipment, and he was hired."
Fenny worked as a night reporter, helping with page layout and covering any evening assignments that came up.
"He was a talker," recalled operations manager Greg Landry, the only current staff member who worked for the Daily News when Fenny did. "He could talk the shirt right off your back."
Everything seemed fine.
Fenny was an affable character, and got along well with his co-workers and the public. He would often go out looking for random photographs for the paper, and found many of those at the then-new Amherst Centre Mall.
"It got to the point where he was at the mall so much, I had to ask him if his camera worked anywhere else," said Harkness, with his legendary dry wit.
One person who had no problem with his photos was Pam Harrison, who at the time was manager of the mall. She appreciated the promotion of activities there, and got to know Fenny from his frequent visits.
"He seemed to be a good writer, and he had a nose for stories," she said. "He always put a real interesting angle on a story. He seemed like he was very professional, and was good at what he did, I thought. So much for my judgment..."
In October of that year, Harrison was organizing a community fundraising campaign for Gloria Burke, a River Hebert girl with a rare skin disease who had been living at a nursing home in Halifax. What Harrison wanted was a news article on Burke with a recent photo.
Fenny offered to help. The only problem was that he did not have a car. Arranging his meeting with Gloria Burke, Harrison agreed to lend him her car, which he took on Friday night after having a meal with her and her children in Minudie.
He was supposed to have the car back by noon on Monday, but Harrison never saw him or her car again.
(To be continued in the Dec. 22 issue of The Citizen-Record. Anyone with information about Gordon Fenny is encouraged to contact Andrew Wagstaff at firstname.lastname@example.org)