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Columnist at The Charlotte Observer retiring after 30 years

Published: Sep. 26, 2014 at 12:15 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 26, 2014 at 12:15 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Fannie Flono says she is calling it quits after three decades at The Charlotte Observer.

When she got to town in 1984, Harvey Gantt was mayor, NCNB was the town's biggest bank, and there was no John Belk Freeway or major professional sports teams.

She's had her hands and words on some of areas biggest stories. Her columns are delivered when we say good morning, but Fannie Flono is handling a series of goodbyes.

"I've been the city editor. I've been the political editor. I've been the assistant state editor. I joined the editorial board in 1993," she said.

Over last 30 years the African American journalist at The Charlotte Observer has soared through the newsroom's so called glass ceiling.

Flono admits, "I never thought of myself as a trailblazer of any sort, and people have come up to me to say that 'you blazed the trail for me.'"

Winning friends and influencing readers didn't always happen, but the mission was focused. "Provoke people to think," she said. "Get other people to consider the other person's point of view."

Government was a constant topic. "I wanted to be part of deepening the conversation of the community that I live in," she said.

Colleagues and subscribers will feel a void when Flono leaves. Arts reporter Lawrence Toppman has known her the entire time she worked for the paper.

"Her writing is always cool and thoughtful, and even though there is passion, it's not the passion of anger," Toppman said.

Observer Editor Rick Thames was once supervised by her.

"She's been an important commentator for the community saying the right things at the right time," Thames told WBTV.

Flono says she has no plans after her final column. She says, "I'm just open to what the next vista might be."

During her time in Charlotte, Fannie was selected to be a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, wrote several books, and her columns were syndicated in a number of papers.

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