Editor’s note: In honor of the Sun Journal’s 175th anniversary this year, we are highlighting some of the Sun Journal’s employees.

Mary Delamater holds two fish she caught during an outing on Aziscohos Lake. “Those were the first two salmon I ever caught. … I was soooooooo excited, as you can tell,” she said. Submitted photo

Name: Mary Delamater

Years of service: 50-plus. I started part-time as a proofreader in July 1971.

Current position: Copy editor on the nightside editing desk

Other positions held at Sun Journal: Proofreader, freelance writer, and photographer and staff reporter.

What do you enjoy most about your job?


First, serving readers by providing the latest, accurate news in their communities. I’ve lived in western Maine all my life and therefore have acquired a lot of institutional knowledge about people, places and events that helps me spot errors in stories and correct them. Second, all the relationships I’ve made with a wide cross-section of people. Third, the wealth of knowledge I’ve gained from reading and researching so many stories on all aspects of life.

What are your most memorable moments?

There are many but three come to mind.

I was covering a hearing in a murder case in Oxford County Superior Court in Paris one afternoon and the defendant referred to himself as a “sacrificial lamb.” Shortly after I got to the office in Lewiston to write the story, a very tall Viking-type fellow with long, blond hair and wearing a white tank top shirt came to my desk (there was no security in those days) and put a small brown cardboard box on my desk and left. Nothing said. I foolishly opened it and inside was a small stuffed lamb. No note. I knew who had sent it. I called state police who came to retrieve it, and when my shift was done they escorted me home and found all was well there.

I made an error in writing up a list of court cases and the person named sued the newspaper for a good sum of money. I felt so guilty and worried I’d be fired and had cost the company big bucks. I took the stand and testified it was an unintentional error. The jury awarded the defendant just $500. When court adjourned, James Costello Sr., the newspaper publisher, came up to me and gave me a big hug and a warm smile. I was so relieved and so grateful for his response. And then he took me to lunch with the company’s attorney.

A third memorable moment was covering the Grateful Dead when they came to Oxford Plains Speedway in the 1980s. I’d never seen anything like it in my life! The crowds, the traffic, the smoke, the Deadheads. It was surreal seeing over 100,000 people in that space. Michael Liberty, who owned the track at the time, was concerned about my safety and walked me from the press box down to the racetrack and through the throngs to the pit area. Along the way we were offered “stuff.” I got the story and some photos and made a black-and-white panoramic shot of the scene from atop the press box for a personal memento. My first and only Grateful Dead concert experience.


What brought you to the Sun Journal originally?

My husband at the time worked in the composing room and someone asked him if I’d be interested in proofreading copy part-time. I accepted and eventually worked on the Associated Press wire desk writing headlines. One evening the city editor said there was an opening in the regional news department, which covered the areas outside Lewiston-Auburn. I moved there and it was a dream job editing copy, doing some reporting on all kinds of stories, some photography, typing obits, laying out the Oxford Hills news pages and talking with so many people in so many walks of life.

Fifty years is a very long time. What has kept you at the Sun Journal?

The newspaper opened the door to me and I’ve stayed because I’ve been valued and the work is interesting, important, challenging and educational. As a child, I used to go to my neighbor’s house on Sundays and collect her newspaper for my father to read, but I never read a newspaper until I started at the SJ. I took a typing class in high school to fill an empty study period, not knowing I’d be using that skill for my entire career. I see all this as part of a divine plan.

Every month, Mary Delamater decorates a wooden tree that stands in the Sun Journal newsroom. For January, she decorated the tree with handmade snowmen that she named after many of her fellow employees at the newspaper.

Over those years, did you become known for certain traits? During my time on the copydesk I acquired the nickname “Mary Deleter” because of my reputation for doing major surgery on long pieces that were: 1. overwritten; 2. too long for the space on the page; 3. had irrelevant information; or 4. made no sense. My scalpel/chain saw was sharp and precise, taking only what was necessary for readers to know and yet not destroying someone’s work. And making deadline. For that, I got the moniker.

A former managing editor entered a nationwide contest by Editor & Publisher magazine about copy editors being unsung heroes for their work checking, correcting and polishing stories. She wrote about my work ethic and skills and said that when I got a really messy piece to edit I’d often grouse first, begin digging in and say, “Job security.” Her entry was among the few contest winners.


Interesting or fun personal fact about yourself?

I love lighted trees, year-round. They cheer me. So I have one inside my house, outside my house decorated for each month; I have a wooden one that was made for the newsroom in Lewiston that I decorate each month with a theme and lights; and I have my 1996 Christmas tree, minus all the needles, strung with white lights in a garden at the Christian campground in Mechanic Falls where I volunteer as a trustee to maintain the buildings and grounds.

Anything else you’d like to share: I could not have imagined I would spend 50 years in the same job and still enjoy it. A former executive editor once said his idea of success in the journalism profession was working for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times or other big-city newspapers. I said my definition of success is doing something you love, living in a part of the country you love and being surrounded by your family. I’ve had half a century of success as a journalist.

This People Behind the Paper is the first in a series of Sun Journal employee spotlights. As the Sun Journal celebrates 175 years of publishing, you will be introduced to the dedicated and talented people who make it happen. Our employees are your neighbors and each one is committed to our mission to inform, challenge and reflect the communities we serve.

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