Looking Back: Colleagues past and present remember working with Mo

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - NewsCenter 16 continues its tribute to Maureen McFadden as she gets ready to set sail into retirement at the end of the week.

On Wednesday night, we look at Maureen McFadden as seen through the eyes of those who now work and have worked with her.

"What do you think or what do you hope the people you have worked with over the years would say about Maureen McFadden, the journalist and co-worker?" Mo's younger brother Terry asked.

"I would hope they would say I'm a good journalist, that I did my due diligence and followed stories that were important," Mo responded. "I like telling stories that mean something, not only to me but to our viewers. So, I would hope they say they learned something from me and that they have respect for what I have done."

"Where does Maureen McFadden rank among the people you've supervised as a news director?" Terry asked former WNDU News Director C.J. Beutien.

"Way at the top," he replied.

C.J. spent 25 years as a news director at a number of TV stations. He spent his last 11 years prior to retirement at WNDU.

"When you have newsroom like we had here – where a large percentage of people that work there are kids, like right out of school, on their first or second job – to have someone like Mo in the newsroom was fantastic because she was a good storyteller, she knew how to put stories together, and the younger people always looked up to her, and she worked with them and didn't mind sharing, and that helped immensely," he said. "It's a news director's dream to have someone like Mo on your staff."

"She's a resource and someone to look up to, and she has been an inspiration," fellow NewsCenter 16 anchor Tricia Sloma said.

Tricia counts herself among the "kids" Mo has taken under her wing.

"She's introduced me to countless individuals, people that I can call mentors and friends to this day, and they were all introduced to me by Maureen McFadden," Tricia said.

And Mo's greatest asset?

"Maureen has been a motivator, not only to me but to many in the newsroom," Tricia said. "Maureen holds us to a higher standard. She expects the best, obviously, in her own craft, and it motivates you to do better at your own work. … And she's someone who is hard-working, and that hard work ethic is not lost on me."

"She's kind of like the glue of the place, in a way, because she's been here for a very long time, and everybody knows Mo. And that's one of the things we're going to miss," Chief Meteorologist Mike Hoffman said. "But the steadiness of what Maureen brought to the table was kind of amazing."

"Even though Mo was the queen of the station, she never got so big that she couldn't and wouldn't help people," former photographer Tim Andrews said. "… I think that Mo never stood so tall as when she bent over to help someone coming up."

"She's such a professional and such a caring individual and a wonderful writer," former producer Wanda Dudley said. "And as a producer, you always want someone that's a wonderful writer that's on your team. I didn't have to worry with her. You know, she made life easy."

And life hasn't always been easy for Wanda, who, like Mo, had to balance work with raising a family.

You could say Mo couldn't have written a better script.

"She was the epitome of the working mom," Dudley said. "I think that's one thing I really appreciated about her. She loved her family, and her family came first. She loved this job. But her family came first, and I was really impressed by that.

"I've grown to understand through my life's journey how important that foundation of family is. And work is everything, you know, you have to work, but family is what's most important, and I think that's one lesson that I learned from her, for sure."

"The Maureen McFadden I remember from 1979 was bright and funny and incredibly charismatic, just as she is today," NBC News correspondent and former WNDU reporter Anne Thompson said. "But way back then, I knew right then I wanted her to be my friend."

Forty years later, that friendship endures. Anne got her start in TV news at WNDU the same year as Mo. And they weren't just friends, they were roommates.

But Anne would leave South Bend and climb to the top of the TV news business.

Mo, Anne says, could have done the same.

"I don't think you should ever confuse ambition and talent," she said. "Maureen always had the talent, still has the talent. She can stand up to any journalist there is today, and she's better than most of them. But her ambition was different. She wanted to stay in South Bend. She wanted it to stay where she started, and that's what she did. If you go to the network level, it's not because some fairy godmother tapped you on the shoulder, it's because you want to get there. Maureen looked at that and said, 'No. I want be where I was raised. I care about my community. I want to raise my family here.' And that's exactly what she did."

And while Anne may have been the first friend Mo made in TV news, she is certainly not the last. Mo has become friends with generations of WNDU co-workers, which makes her retirement all the more bittersweet.

"The people are what really make the station, and we've got a great bunch of people, and we always have," Mo said. "And I think, more than anything, I will miss the people. And everyone I know who has retired from whatever they're doing, whether it was here or a hospital or wherever they work, a grocery store, I've asked them about retirement, and they said, 'You know what? I really don't miss the work, but I miss the people,' and I know I'm going to miss the people."

Thursday night at 6, we'll show you how Maureen's work as a journalist and her community involvement have made Michiana a better place to live.