Goodbye, My Old Friend

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For years, I've preached to my reporters, "If you can't reach the little old lady on Easy Street, you don't have a story."

By that, I meant, that if the reporter fails to make the story relevant to the average senior citizen in the first paragraph or two, you don't have a story.

My "little old lady on Easy Street," --he woman upon whom I based this philosophy --s no longer with us.

Sally Gail Smith --ne of my closet friends, my confidant, my second mother --ied Friday, Dec. 3, under the loving, gentle care of RTA Hospice, after fighting her battle with heart disease.

While the family begins the painful process of closing out her life, I'd like to tell you who Sally Smith was.

The mother of three, Sally lost her husband in 1982. She was devastated, but picked up her life, and years later, moved from Scottsdale to Payson.

Originally from Petosky, Mich., in the Rim country, she found her second hometown.

Her son, Scott, and I began visiting her nearly every weekend, making the short one-hour drive from Scottsdale to see what was for dinner.

Through Sally, I learned to love the Rim country, as well. Within a year, we moved to Payson to be closer to her.

Sally loved the outdoors, and she loved taking her dogs to the river. She loved to fish. And, although she wasn't much into camping, she never failed to join us in time for Sunday morning breakfast when we went camping.

She was a voracious reader -- can't tell you how many stacks of books we found in her house.

She loved to play cribbage --nd gloated for days, whenever she beat me. I think she even won the last game we played.

She was a fixture at Cucina Paradiso every other Friday night. On Tuesday afternoons, you could most likely find the two of us taking in a movie at Sawmill Theatres.

She loved to garden, until her health forced her to give up her favorite hobby.

She loved the Arizona Cardinals --hrough thick and thin. She also became a fan of the Diamondbacks, and thought Bank One Ballpark was one of the most beautiful places she'd ever seen --nd especially appreciated the number of ice cream vendors on site.

Sally Gail Smith was a strong woman. She had a tremendous sense of humor, right up to the end.

She was wise, generous, loving.

She will be missed.

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