It was never “Sam,” but always “Samantha.”
She didn’t like to be called “Sam,” and when I would slip up during a 5 p.m. meeting or in the middle of designing a page, and accidently call her that dreaded shortened name, I would be sure to get hit with a classic Samantha Middendorf eye-roll.
But that was the person she was. Never let it be said Samantha Middendorf didn’t know exactly what she wanted out of life.
An avid lover of music, the backseat of her car showed the evidence of this love affair. Panic! At the Disco, Iggy Azalea and other assortment of CDs littered her area, all of them listened to with the upmost love and respect.
I knew she would be a great entertainment editor from the moment I took over at The Daily Eastern News.
And when I heard received a phone call early Sunday morning, still half asleep, the news numbed me more than any amount of snow flurries building outside my window.
Samantha was loud. Ask anybody. Seriously— ask anybody — I’m sure they’ve heard her ground-shaking laugh. But in that laugh represented everything you need to know about Samantha. She loved life. She loved her friends. She loved her job. And it was a laugh that echoed in the walls of The News’ newsroom, the same laugh I swore I heard the whisper of when I walked in Sunday morning.
Without a doubt, Samantha gave life to everything every journalist needs to be. Her loyalty and responsibility to her duty surpassed nearly every other editor I have had the privilege of working with.
Whether it was her telling me excitedly about a new story she was working on, or balking at the state of one of her sources, Samantha never gave anything less than an energy that was absolutely captivating.
When she still worked on the copy desk last spring, I assigned her the spring concert story. It was the Thompson Square concert. She returned from it at roughly 9:50 p.m., and by 10:20 p.m. had a fully fleshed out, long — probably close to 700 words — story. If I wasn’t impressed by her work ethic before, she certainly had my attention then.
I’ll never know someone who completely embodied journalism, but she is one of the closest I have to measure it against.
And besides her dedication, she just loved everything. It was great to see her with a smile on her face, her ground-shaking laugh.
And even now, I learned so much from her. I learned not to take myself too seriously—especially those nights working on the copy desk with her. As managing editor last semester, Samantha worked as my copy editor. And on those long nights when I was rushed to put out the paper, it didn’t take much for her to get me to remember that it was just one night, that things would get better.
Watching her grow—not only as a journalist, but as a person—is something I wouldn’t trade for the world. It will be a memory forever cherished in my heart, as I know I will continue to hear her signature laugh in my head.
Rare as it is to find someone with genuine warmth, as well as steel-cold tenacity when it came to something she cared about, I know I will never meet someone like Samantha again.
Even now, knowing I will meet a lot more people in my life, I know Samantha will stick out to me. As the editor in chief, or someone who believed he had seen a lot while working for The News, Samantha continued to surprise me.
On campus, people believe we cover death because we like the attention it brings, or, as journalists it makes us insensitive to the lives of others.
But, in reality, we cover every death with the respect it deserves, no matter what. And when it strikes this close to home, it is something we too have to deal with.
But in the end, it is about the people close to you that will help you through something like this.
And when it came to friends, Samantha was never in short supply. It wasn’t her personality to be unfriendly. I can’t count the number of reporters I watched walk through the doors of The News just to have Samantha smile at them and instantly become their friend.
It wasn’t in her nature to ignore someone who needed help. And that was apparent as the nights drew on for the copy desk and I’d be frustrated with a design that wasn’t working. She was always eager to give suggestions.
To me, Samantha will always be the embodiment of somebody I hoped I could be. Somebody dedicated and strong; tough and good-humored.
And in these next few days or weeks, it will be one of the hardest things I have had to do—persevering. But to know Samantha would know she wouldn’t want this paper to stop. She wouldn’t want us to stop.
And we shouldn’t. We should carry on for Samantha. We should continue the good work we’ve done. If not to help get us through, but to not tarnish her memory.
And I will always remember you, Samantha.
Bob Galuski is a senior journalism and English major. He can be reached at
581-7912 or [email protected]