June 26 2020 09:00 AM

She was the gatekeeper for the English language.

Finely tuned rations, stringent milking procedures, and compliance to sound reproductive protocols all lead to well-run dairies. In journalism, the same can be said of a watchful eye that carefully reviews each page for grammar, style, and consistency. For 58 years, Marlene Brunner led quality control efforts for our magazine. And, without a doubt, she forever raised the bar for quality at our publication.

On Sunday, June 21, 2020, Marlene C. Brunner died peacefully at her home. And we would like to take a moment to reflect upon her long career that will forever leave an imprint on our publication.

Marlene was recruited to join our team by the late W.D. Knox, the magazine’s third lead editor. In his search, Knox knew he had big shoes to fill, as Mamie Dietz, a staffer with 53 years of experience . . . dating back to the founder himself, W.D. Hoard . . . had just retired as the head of quality control. Mr. Knox hit a grand slam in selecting Brunner to follow Dietz. Together, the two filled the same crucial role for 88% of our magazine’s history — 111 out of 126 years — at the time of Marlene’s retirement in 2011.

Marlene served as the gatekeeper of product consistency.

By our count, that includes carefully reading over 67,000 pages. At the same time, she mentored young staffers on our magazine’s style and shared with them the finer points of the English language. Marlene also headed up much more than quality control. She was an empathetic person who went above and beyond the call of duty to help readers find past articles to solve on-farm issues.

While many readers may have never had the opportunity to meet Marlene in person, she touched all those who have ever read Hoard’s Dairyman. Her commitment to the magazine, its readers, our company, and good journalism will never be equaled.

Click on the link to read Marlene Brunner’s obituary.

A slideshow detailing Marlene’s career at Hoard’s Dairyman can be found here:

Candid comments from those who knew Marlene
“It’s always a pleasure to work with someone who loves their job,” — Brian Knox, President, W.D. Hoard & Sons Company

“She was a Hoard’s icon to say the least. All those years working with so many different and diverse personalities is quite the accomplishment.” — Gary Vorpahl (Hoard’s Dairyman Vice President of Marketing from 1985 to 2018)

“She contributed so greatly to Hoard’s Dairyman.” — Ewing Row (Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor and Managing Editor from 1968 to 1998)

“Fond memories of Marlene, as she was a ‘firecracker,’ especially for her time! I'll forever admire her independence, sense of style, and her ability to forge a path in life traveled mostly alone! She influenced so many along the way. She also was a historian who lived through so much change, especially during her many, many years at Hoard’s.” — Jane Griswold (Hoard’s Dairyman Dairy Senior Marketing Manager)

“Marlene certainly was a defender of the language! And I both enjoyed and respected her.” — Andy Dellava (Hoard’s Dairyman Dairy Marketing Manager)

“She was a special lady.” — Sara Harbaugh (Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor from 2001 to 2002)

“There will never be another Marlene. I am cherishing the memory of Marlene Brunner; she was a close co-worker of mine when working at Hoard's Dairyman my first few years after college. Marlene may have been 50-plus years my senior but her friendship was so important to me — I had moved to a new state and knew few people in the area.

Besides day-to-day work, we could talk on and on about shopping. Her style was so eclectic and wonderful. This 75-year-old would walk into the Hoard's Dairyman office wearing a leather skirt and black tights, a shearling duster, and Ugg boots.

The best thing about Marlene’s friendship was we could laugh so hard together. My favorite story was when she called Digger's hotline. She was planting a shrub near an electrical box and wanted to just be sure (she worried about everything). She couldn’t believe the questions they were asking her (after repeatedly telling them it was just going to be her and a shovel!), so eventually when they asked her if she was using explosives, she told them . . . ‘YEAH! Dynamite’ . . . I think we laughed until we cried.

Marlene would want all of us to buy that extra bag of cat food or dog food and drop it off at the shelter or feed the strays. Her heart for animals was like no one else’s.

Thank you so much, Marlene, for being my friend when I really needed it the most — a homesick recent college grad new to the working world. I will never forget you!” — Lana Beckard (Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor from 2008 to 2011)

“For my internship and part of my almost two-year time at Hoard's Dairyman, I had the pleasure of working with Marlene Brunner. If you read Hoard's Dairyman before 2012, she made it better as proofreader, which probably is not a fair assessment of how big of an influence she played in its success. She was a coordinator, a double-checker, but also a troublemaker in the best kind of way, not afraid to stand up to the editors on all things grammar . . . too bad I didn't listen better.

She was also an animal lover. Just look at the places where to send memorials in lieu of flowers. My time with her was short and at the end of her fine career, but she was a really fun person and always on the ‘team’ of the intern versus the big bad editors!

Rest in Peace, Marlene.” — Lucas Sjostrom (Hoard’s Dairyman Associate Editor from 2011 to 2013)

Prayers for this lady’s family and friends. She worked hard and wore some large shoes to fill at Hoard’s Dairyman. I can certainly attest to that!” — Andrea Haines (Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Coordinator from 2012 to 2014)

Lasting impression on Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Interns
“I will forever remember the things I learned from Marlene Brunner during my internship at Hoard's Dairyman: proofreading, making everything fit into the Expo Supplement, and the flexibility you need when a last-minute ad came in.

But more than anything, I will remember her heart for people and her animals, and the commitment to her work, a 58-year career she spent at Hoard's making ‘The next issue our best one yet.’” — Casey Hushon (Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern 2006)

“She was such a character and will surely be missed by all who knew her.” — Coleen Jones (Hoard’s Dairyman Editorial Intern 1998)