Executive Editor Hogarty Retires

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(Jeff Heyman, Photographer)
Sally Hogarty, Executive Editor of The Orinda News, retired at the end of December after nearly 30 years. Orinda resident Kathy Cordova assumed her duties in January.

    In 1993 when Sally Hogarty accepted a part-time job as assistant editor of The Orinda News, she had no idea what she was getting herself into. It was a nice part-time job that fit into her freelance journalist portfolio.
    The workload, however, soon increased, requiring more time. She assumed more duties, became editor and doubled the number of issues to 12 per year. The work continued and the years passed. Suddenly three decades have passed and Hogarty has decided to retire from The Orinda News. 
    There was no easy transition when she began in 1993.
    “I had been writing feature articles for years, and then my first assignment for The Orinda News was to write a news story about Gateway Valley,” said Hogarty.
    The development of Gateway Valley was a bitterly fought battle that raged for years among the community, a series of four different developers, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the courts. Divisive behavior often spilled over into other community meetings.
    There was a lot of pressure attached to the Gateway writing assignment, and Hogarty carefully studied all the material she could get her hands on.
    “It was a major shock when I first started covering City Council meetings, which were very contentious at that time,” she recalled. “Resident Ray Davis sometimes dressed in Nazi-like attire and would routinely be escorted out of the meeting by the Orinda police.”
    This writer remembers a fight between Davis and the police chief at the time, swinging at one another and rolling around on the floor of Founders Auditorium, where City Council meetings were then held.
    Added to the demands of adequately covering the local news, attending meetings, working with writers and readying the paper for publication, Hogarty also contended with advances in technology, which initially didn’t always make work easier.
    In 1985, technology provided a computer, but no email. When Hogarty took over, she enjoyed a computer, email and a fax machine. Today, thanks to graphics and layout designers Jill Gelster and David Dierks, the paper takes advantage of the latest advances in computer science and maintains its own website, http://www.theorindanews.com.
    “The three of us were challenged, keeping up with developing technology that continually required us to revamp our various processes,” said Hogarty.
    Writing about the news requires knowing and understanding the people who are involved with the issues, Hogarty’s favorite part of the job. She remembers working with Orinda Gateway LLC Project Manager Michael Olson in particular.
    “Michael was great to work with,” she said. “He knew how to listen to critics, to compromise and to work with people. Without him, I’m not sure Gateway would have been developed.”
    Some of the work was fun she recalled, “He and I spent lots of time walking the property and taking crazy jeep rides up and down the hills as they were being graded. It was amazing, after writing about all the years of controversy and lawsuits, to be at the ground breaking ceremony for what is now Wilder, with its beautiful playing fields, art center and lovely homes.”
    Writing stories about people sometimes has an impact on reporters that lingers for years. One such story for Hogarty was about the execution-style murder in August 1995 of Maria Elena Corrieo, 68, and her daughter Gina Roberts, 51.
    Corrieo owned Maria Elena’s restaurant in Concord. Carrying the day’s receipts home with them after work, mother and daughter were followed to their Orinda house on Moraga Way and brutally murdered for the cash they carried. Hogarty connected with the surviving family members and was invited to share a meal at the restaurant, where she was deeply moved by the family’s expressions of love.
    Other stories that remain special to Hogarty include one about Orinda children making and delivering peace kits to Paradise students who were impacted by the devastating fire that destroyed their town in 2019.
    Then there was the Holden student who overcame very difficult circumstances to stay in school, pursue her dream and graduate high school. And Hogarty can’t forget the California Independent Film Festival that allowed interviews with stars like Tippi Hedren and Fay 
Dunaway.
    In parting Hogarty said, “I want to emphasize how much I enjoyed getting to know the residents of Orinda, city staff and all the wonderful writers and editors I worked with.”
    For three decades, Hogarty provided Orinda with a newspaper that residents could count on to deliver the facts needed to make good decisions about events in their city. She has told stories about Orindans and their talents, hopes, achievements and contributions to Orinda. She has served this community well, and she will be sorely missed.
    Hogarty will continue with acting, her great passion. Early this month, she is off to New York to film a commercial for a Canadian medical research company. You can catch her next stage appearance at the Campbell Theater, 636 Ward Street, Martinez (www.campbelltheater.com) where she’ll perform in I’m Herbert, from Jan. 13 – 29.

Lynda Leonard can be reached at lyndaeleonard@gmail.com.

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