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Giving Gravy life

Madera Tribune File Photo

From left, Madera Tribune columnist Tami Jo Nix, CFO Nancy Simpson and Publisher Charles Doud at the 2017 Madera Fair.


Every time I take pleasure in my column Gravy by the Slice, I count my blessings that God sent Charles P. Doud to rescue The Madera Tribune from the scrapheap.

We were headed there when the previous owners sold our sister papers to the McClatchy organization. There were two publications they didn’t want, the Turlock Journal and the Madera Tribune. I said it was like being the ugly child left behind at the orphanage.

The 26 years I have been with the Tribune has been the most fun I’ve had in six-plus decades. Having no children of my own, the Tribune became my baby, and she is a handful.

Between 1995-2002, our newspaper had a variety of people sitting in the boss’ Big Chair.

Some of our publishers liked me and others not so much.

Chuck saw something worthwhile in me the first time we met. He knew a life-long resident of Madera could help him to navigate the utterly unique community that is Madera.

The pulse of Madera has always been my lifeline. I never met a stranger.

In 2006, we lost a quirky reporter and columnist named Cal Tatum. He wrote a column, “Looking for a Bar.” The title is his career mantra, “I was looking for a bar when I found this job.”

He left our employ to seek adventures in Wyoming, Alaska or any place not California.

I had written a couple or three past op-ed columns for special occasions under the heading, “Gravy by the Slice.”

I asked Chuck if I could have Tatum’s space for a weekly (weakly) column of my own.

One of the most enduring fawcets about my relationship with Chuck was his reception to my ideas. Nobody knows where ideas come from. Some of them are good and some aren’t. Sometimes I can’t tell the difference. If I try to share just good ideas, they dry up altogether.

He welcomed new view points to help make and keep the, six-day-daily edition of The Madera Tribune relevant, informative and entertaining.

When he assumed the helm of the Tribune, one of the first things he did was add “Pickles,” by Brian Crane to the comics page.

“Everybody loves Pickles,” he said. He encouraged our readers to send in sample articles for publication. We received recipes, political notices, opinion pieces, letters to the editor and a host of other proposals.

Accepting and printing these messages from the community help to heal the rift between the owners of the Merced Sun Times from Missouri, the Tribune and the residents of Madera.

Reoccurring columnists, such as the late Leon Emo, along with local historian Bill Coate, college professor Jim Glynn and frequent letter writers helped bring members of the community to the inside of the editorial process.

He showed faith in us to do our jobs, and he didn’t try to micro-manage his employees.

We knew what annual events were on the horizon, we knew to create the extra interviews, stories and photographs needed for special sections. We did this while still putting out the “Daily,” publication.

He sent us to seminars and conferences. Our fearless leader proudly entered all our best works in competitions, both locally and statewide. The California Newspaper Association recognized the coverage of our pro-agriculture features and we brought home the honors. At Farm Bureau media competitions across the state, he entered those as well.

They didn’t restrict their enthusiasm for their new hometown to just the pages of their newspaper.

Together, he and his dear Annette embraced life in Madera. Chuck served on the Madera Chamber of Commerce, Friends of the Library, Kiwanis Club, Madera Community Hospital and Art’s Council boards. He bought tickets and took staff members to charity balls and other functions. He often bought tables at the Sunrise Rotary Trees for Charity, Madera Rotary Halloween Ball, Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, Rescue Mission Soup and Salad Luncheons and always paid for company picnics and holiday parties.

He encouraged staff to invite their spouses or significant others and children, when appropriate, to join the fun at his expense.

His beloved Annette’s contributions to the arts included opening her home gallery for members of the artists guild to display their talents. Her work in pastels, watercolors, oils, textiles and photography has become her legacy and are treasures for those who now have custody of her works.

She was nearly always by his side at civic functions and was a most gracious hostess.

Since the passing of his beloved wife, he has received comfort and grown closer to his friends, church family and staff. Their sweet little rescue dog Tribbie has brought him hours of joy to fill his empty house.

His dear girlfriend Bonnie Mazzoni said, “We shared 20 months of laughter and joy.”

We are collecting memories of Chuck to be published in a future edition. Please send them to Tyler Takeda, who is trying to fill in the big shoes of Chuck Doud (

May we all have long days and pleasant nights with our memories of this great man.


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