How do you say goodbye to the one person you never wanted to leave? Pam Doto was much more than an editor to me. She was my mentor, my friend, at times my shrink, and in the end, family.
When I got the phone call that my beloved Pam had passed away on April 16, I felt as if every star in the universe was extinguished. I went into a state of total shock and I remain that way as I write this. Dear God, why did you call Pam home so soon? She had so much left to do here. I just wanted to tell her one more time how much she meant to me.
There are not enough words in the world that could properly do justice to this incredible, vibrant woman who loved her family, friends and animal friends fervently and earnestly. Pam lived her life with passion. She was a proud Sicilian woman with an adventurous spirit and a set of survival skills that would make MacGyver jealous.
She loved to rescue animals, but she was also quite skilled at saving humans. She definitely saved me, more than once. I first entered her newsroom on Green Road 13 years ago to interview for a job reporting community news in West Boca Raton. I was 23 and like most 23 year olds, I thought I knew it all.
I was fresh from the tabloids and Pam warned me that the salary in community news was a far cry from what I was earning slinging gossip stories about J.Lo and Tom Cruise.
I insisted that I wanted to pay my dues as an authentic community news reporter and that the money didn’t matter as long as I was doing something I felt was meaningful. It was the smartest and most rewarding career move I ever made.
Over the 13 years we worked together, Pam allowed me a variety of opportunities to spread my creative wings and really grow as a writer. With her, my “Life In The Fab Lane” column was born. I later edited Boca Piquant magazine, launched a city edition of that publication, created my own beauty magazine and got to contribute to the sassy, feminist-geared publication Queen B as well as South Florida Parenting magazine.
She encouraged me to write more hard-hitting investigative pieces on subjects such as Scientology and the changing face of the American family and she inspired me to really focus on issues in the community. When raises couldn’t be given, she raised our spirits. Working for her brought me a sense of pride and joy money could never buy.
At first, I resisted writing these more involved investigative pieces, but then I realized Pam always had my best interests in mind and she wanted me to get out of my comfort zone as a writer. It was scary, but necessary.
Ironically enough, I came full circle with my love for community news this Christmas when my role as a reporter shifted from entertainment back to being a community reporter in Delray Beach. For the first time in several years, I felt like I was doing what I was meant to do and I owe it all to Pam.
Pam was the sort of boss who was very fair and allowed you to grow in your position, yet she treated you as an equal. There was always mutual respect and at the very heart of everything she did, she encouraged authenticity—to be true to yourself and the true mission of journalism.
Every time I wanted to give up, Pam reminded me why I became a journalist in the first place. She had a love for journalism that was infinite. That was something I deeply admired. She talked me out of quitting journalism three times. Her advice always resonated with me.
Pam loved peace, her partner Jen, debating politics, rocking out to Led Zeppelin, especially John Bonham, Heart and The B-52s and the great outdoors. She fought for what she believed in and she worked relentlessly to save as many people as she could in her newsroom from the inevitable lay offs. Those lay offs took a toll on her heart and soul. She truly cared about everyone who worked for her. And that is something you just don’t see anymore in a corporate environment.
I don’t want to imagine the world without Pam in it. It’s just a bunch of boring blank pages. She filled our lives and our papers with something extraordinary.
This past Christmas, Pam gave me a beautiful crystal angel as a Christmas gift. I adored it the moment I opened it but I didn’t quite understand the gift until now. I always called Pam my angel. She saved my butt more times than I can count and I learned a lifetime of lessons from her. She will forever be my angel, now watching over all of us from above.
I would do anything to be able to walk into her office again and grab a little piece of wisdom and see her smile. I would always stop into her office with Kari Barnett to catch up at the end of the work day. I always looked forward to our conversations about cats, handbags, L. Ron Hubbard, office shenanigans and whatever crazy nonsense was going on in our own lives. When her door was open, so was her heart and she always took time to listen. She made us feel appreciated and we always went the extra mile for her because Pam was worth it.
So rest now, my beautiful angel. Thank you for bringing me hope when I was hopeless. Thank you for all you did over the years to keep our ship afloat. From time to time, send us a sign as you’re watching over us from above. Give a kiss to Shani McManus and my grandpa for me. I know Shani is probably already giving you a hard time for getting up there so soon. FPG may be a community news company, but in my heart, it will always stand for “Forever Pam’s Group.” Man, do I wish heaven had visiting hours. I can only imagine the concert Pam’s having up there right now with Bonham and the boys.
If you are missing Pam too and would like to do something special to honor her memory, be kinder to each other and the planet. Rescue an animal in her name. Do something bold and adventurous outdoors and respect nature. Cherish this very moment. Be true to yourself. And always…follow your heart. I know she would’ve wanted that.