January 20, 2022

12. "The Last 'Man' Standing" - A Tribute to Mary Colvig-Rhodes


Editor’s Note: Thirty years ago, a collective of 10 visionaries banded together to give Topanga a newspaper. They were soon joined by an 11th–publisher Ian Brodie. These and many others have come and gone over the years, each making his or her unusual contributions, but only one is still here managing the day-to-day operations of the paper, working with advertisers, supervising staff and signing off on every issue of the Messenger before it goes to press. Her colleagues Mary Colvig-Rhodes.

MERRICK DAVIDSON: There have been many people who have shown tremendous dedication to the progress of the Messenger, from that beginning year to the present. There has been only one person who has seen and been through all the tribulations and the controversy, through the changes in personnel and editors, and has been the glue that has kept the paper together. That person is Mary Colvig. She deserves our gratitude and our tribute. For 30 years she has literally been the backbone of the paper and has, in no small way, been the one who was responsible for the newspaper coming out biweekly all this time.

MICHAEL CREGAR: Mary Colvig was the nuts and bolts of the paper and could lay you out with great lines of humorous invective. Where Colin and I would be off in the creative ooze, Mary was the Rock! Reason and logic, combined with her ability to guide the financial end of the business was all Mary’s. To this day, I wonder how she kept buying cars and upgrading her house. Mary kept our feet on the ground while we floated in the clouds. She did it all with that Irish sense of humor and style unmatched by any of us.

EMILY KARNES: The original nine were quite a group: Merrick with his dramatic flair; artistic Connie and Susie; Sid, the smiling Buddha; Earth mother Judee; Flavia the New Yorker living in a creekside shack; Europeans Colin and Nico.

And no-nonsense Mary.

What can one say about Mary? Well, Tom and I have entrusted her as our property manager while we’re on the road. That should say it all. But of course it doesn’t. I’ve known Mary since moving to Topanga 32 years ago (she lives just down the street), but I didn’t really get to know her until the Messenger.

In the early days, those of us working on the paper practically lived together, spending many waking hours at the office on Grand View. Flavia, Susie and Pam each had one child, I had two, but Mary had three—two in diapers, one an infant. I still don’t know how she did it. Over the years we all drifted on to other places, other jobs, other interests. New people came and went. But Mary stayed. And she’s still there, holding it all together—the glue.

How did she stick (no pun intended) with it all these years? I think it must be her very dry sense of humor. Anyone acquainted with Mary knows she speaks her mind, always. And when her wit comes into play, is she kidding or not? Only her sly little smile might give her away.

Mary, you’re a gem!!!!!

COLIN PENNO: I’m sure Mary Colvig is enjoying the sweetness of the irony that she is “the last ‘man’ standing,” so to speak, among the merry Messenger band who began it all 30 years ago.

As she will no doubt say now, as she did so often then when it became time for her to again administer a brief ego adjustment to myself, “If it was easy, boys would do it.”

Let’s put it this way. Mary Colvig is the most honest, most matter-of-fact, most unassuming and most honorable human being I am blessed to have known.

Where she gets her strength I do not know, although I suspect it may have roots in religion. In any case, J.C. must be smiling, that’s for sure.

IAN BRODIE: That says it all except for this. For 30 years, I have been blessed to have the astute judgment and common-sense of Mary Colvig-Rhodes as bookkeeper, guide and counselor. Thanks, Mary. Here’s to the next 30 years!