On July 8, 1996, a young lady named Lori Schipper joined the staff of The Flue-Cured Tobacco Farmer.
Lori’s roots ran deep in North Carolina tobacco production. Her grandparents raised a couple hundred acres of tobacco near Lumberton, N.C., and it was there that she learned to love everything about the crop.
Her bright-eyed, determined approach to journalism won her a following among tobacco farmers right from the beginning. Her blunt, straightforward way of speaking and writing fit right in with her audience. By March 1, 2000, Lori had been promoted to the position of editor of both The Flue-Cured Tobacco Farmer and The Burley Tobacco Farmer.
As so often happens with dedicated journalists, Lori truly cared for her tobacco farming readers and took their challenges and problems as her own. This was best seen in the topics about which she chose to write and the way she chose to write them. With Lori, there was no “us” and “them”—it was all “us.” She made tobacco problems and challenges her personal challenges.
Her early experiences on her grandparents’ tobacco farm imprinted something fundamental into her being, and she always seem to be happiest immersed in digging out the latest information that would help tobacco farmers improve their bottom lines.
In the June 2000 issue of FCTF, Lori likened writing about tobacco to raising tobacco: “After the seed is planted, tobacco farmers fertilize and water. For a writer? Let the idea, like that plant, push through the soil media of your befuddled mind and develop a strong root system, or at least an idea you can articulate. This is accomplished via numerous phone calls to sources who have even less time than you do to make this idea work.”
To close the article, she wrote: “Be kind to tobacco writers. Do not treat us like daily media because we understand. We love what we do and probably have more respect than we should for this golden weed and those who engage in its commerce.”
Lori was helped in this endeavor by her love for learning. This led her first to a bachelor’s degree in international studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, followed by a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree in journalism from Temple University.
Of course, no industry is as thoroughly global in nature as the tobacco industry, which fit perfectly with her editorial work. But her involvement didn’t stop there. Lori was active with People-to-People, traveling to Cambodia, Vietnam and Cuba as an educator and goodwill ambassador.
On the day after Christmas, 2005, Lori lost her continuing battle with mesothelioma. For those so inclined, donations can be made to The American Cancer Society—Other Cancer Research, 124 Park Street SE, Vienna, VA 22180, in memory of Lori Schipper.
Dayton Matlick, Chairman,
SpecComm International, Inc.