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Harriette Leidich grew up in Griswold, Iowa, the daughter of a newspaper editor. She wrote her first column for her father’s newspaper at age 14, beginning a long and varied career in publishing. Working with her father through high school until she graduated in 1929, she operated linotype machines, the industry standard for typesetting from the late-1800s into the 1970s, which involved melting long lead bars to set type.
“Harriette is an enkindled spirit who has set many of us on fire.” – Rev. Mary Lee-Clark:
Harriette married her first husband, George Lerrigo in 1936. During the depression, they lived in Overbrook, Kansas, where they bought and published four weekly newspapers. Owning the papers led her to reporting on a great variety of town affairs, running the linotype, doing the bookkeeping and putting together ads.
Harriette remained involved in publishing even after her husband left the business and went into health care. She published several different newsletters for various organizations, eventually moving to North Adams, Mass., and then to North Bennington. Since 1995, she has been a regular contributor to the Bennington Banner with her column, “Senior Moments.” She uses a typewriter to put her thoughts on paper, writing in a small room at the end of her home’s main hallway.
“Harriette is a hat person.” – Daughter-in-law Janice Lerrigo
Harriette has authored two books, a collection of writings and a memoir, and also co-authored a book with her two sons. She published her first book in her mid-80s. “Awful Green Stuff and the Nakedness of Trees” a collection of her writing, including some Banner columns. Her memoir, published in 2001, is “It’s a Slower Waltz: Memorable Days from a Long Life.” With her sons, she wrote “Our Family Miracle,” about Charley’s illness and George’s bone marrow donation. She has also written profiles of more than 100 fellow parishioners for our church’s Open Door newsletter.
“We want to celebrate the beginning of 101 years.” – Son Charley Lerrigo, asking his mother to light a new candle for the birthday cake
Shortly before her 100th birthday on April 19, 2012, the National Association of Newspaper Columnists recognized Harriette as the oldest active newspaper columnist in America and the Vermont Legislature passed a resolution honoring her. She plans to keep writing and is hoping to write a fourth book.