JoAnna Dalton: Mentor and Friend

Upon going to work at Coastal Carolina University, I was asked to author a social media blog on I am all over this, I thought. After all, I already had my own personal blog and undoubtedly knew everything there was to know about writing. Such a humble mid-20s young professional I was 😂.

But my self-assumed command of the written word was tested when I received the edits to the first draft of my initial entry. The paper was covered in red ink. There must be some mistake. This person must not know “new age” writing, I reasoned.

“This person” was JoAnna Dalton, the university editor who worked in our University Marketing and Communication suite in an office right across from mine. I think JoAnna knew I would be a little shocked to discover I wasn’t as good at writing as I thought I was. So, after the initial surprise of a marked up paper wore off, she went over the edits with me. I polished the draft up and eventually published it on the website.

Joanna Dalton was a special person who meant a lot to me both professionally and personally.

Ensuing blog entries would come back heavily marked up as well—but with a little less red ink than the entry before. After getting over my ego, I realized that I was very fortunate to have JoAnna helping me out. I had never had a professional editor look over my writing before and I learned to embrace the incredible expertise that JoAnna possessed.

My arrogance turned to appreciation as JoAnna and I became great friends. She constantly filled my pen holder with Dum-Dum suckers, introduced me to Bo-Berry biscuits, and helped me navigate life in the South. We talked a lot about our lives outside of work. I became familiar with her daughter and I openly shared with JoAnna about the sweet girl I had started to date.

JoAnna was one of the office “moms” who looked after me during my first year in South Carolina. She reminded me to wear sunscreen, advised me on who I could trust, and always stopped at my desk to say “hello” at the beginning of the day. To know JoAnna was to know someone who was honest, funny, and caring.

We had a great team at CCU in the mid 2010s. Joanna is the third person lined up against the wall on the right half of the photo.

Under JoAnna’s tutelage, my writing improved immensely. I learned more about mechanics and AP Style from her than I could have ever hoped for. One day, I received a draft back from JoAnna that didn’t contain the typical heavy markings that my writing usually generated. Instead, most of the foreign ink was from a message she wrote at the top of the page: You are a really good writer.

That meant a lot.

JoAnna Dalton passed away on Feb. 27, 2024. I will surely cherish the memories I have of JoAnna and be forever thankful for the professional development she provided me. May eternal rest grant unto JoAnna, O’Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. Don’t Blink.

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