The year was 1977 when the space shuttle made its first flight and Lori Mitchell first started working at the St. Albert Gazette.
Fast forward to 2011. The space shuttle has just retired but Mitchell is still going strong. After 34 years she’s the longest-serving employee at the paper.
“It’s been a great place to work and they’ve treated me well,” she said. “I’m constantly learning, which is good. It keeps the mind fresh.”
Mitchell got hired thanks to a suggestion by her mother, Lorraine, who was a Gazette typesetter at the time.
“I thought, Why not? It was part-time and I liked to type,” Lori said.
Lori started as a typesetter, typing stories into a huge computer that was five feet wide by six feet high. It displayed just one line of text.
“It was just typing for eight hours a day on a really old computer,” she said.
This was Lori’s first time in the workforce. The Gazette has been her home ever since.
The paper was also Lorraine’s home for 35 years. She was the longest-serving Gazette employee at the time she retired 10 years ago. She joined shortly after the Ernie and Shirley Jamison bought the paper in 1966.
Lorraine tried her hand at many jobs during her career, including advertisements and page layout.
“It seemed every two years they were bringing in new machines and I was having to learn it all over again,” she said. “It was getting to the point that I thought, ‘Oh my god, I can’t learn any more.’”
Lori is now in charge of the graphic design department. Her big challenge these days is much like what her mother experienced — keeping up with new software and other technology.
The Mitchell-Gazette connection has also included Lori’s father (and Lorraine’s husband) Larry, who was a long-time contributor to the Gazette sports section, Lori’s son Darrell, who did some flyer inserting when he was young and her sister Donna, who was in the accounting department for a while.
“I think we’ve all had our fingers in it at some point,” Lori laughed.
Lorraine said she loved the people she worked with and for.
“Shirley Jamison and Ernie and myself and Larry… we used to laugh about who had the most family working at the paper,” she said. “Whose paper was it: the Jamisons’ or the Mitchells’?”