Wednesday, January 2, 2013

In search of Grace

If you’re reading this column that means you survived the Mayan Prophecy apocalypse, the Fiscal Cliff apocalypse and the Zombie apocalypse. No wonder we can’t help but look forward to the New Year.

But I can’t go forward without looking back, and there was a lot to process in 2012.

Professionally, I feel modern and invigorated because I’ve started blogging, Tweeting and taking videos at events I attend. Please follow me on Twitter @oliviafortson.

That – and the incredible people I’ve had the opportunity to interview this year – have made me love my job even more. It’s especially fun when they also happen to be well known celebrities. Those who made the biggest impression on me were Trina Turk (she is as bright and beautiful as her designs), Russell Simmons (I admire him as a visionary) and design duo Cortney and Robert Novogratz (they are fearless about following their instincts).

The thing I’m most thankful for at work is something that’s hard to explain, but I’ll try.

I never knew Charlotte’s legendary social columnist Grace Hamrick who worked at the Charlotte Observer until 1988. When I started covering the social scene in the mid-1990s, I inherited a lovely photo of her with “Best Wishes” written on it. Occasionally, she would call me and tell me I was doing a good job and offer her gracious encouragement. Her words meant so much to me but our paths never crossed before she died in 2002. Around that time, her photo mysteriously disappeared from my desk and I’ve pined for it ever since then. It suddenly appeared again a few months ago. The frame was gone but that didn’t matter.

What does matter is Grace, her elegance, her generous spirit and her hard work. As the world sometimes seems to be spinning out of control and technology creates constant change, I feel this need to find out more about the woman whom I’ve always admired from afar.

Did you know Grace? Did she write about you? Do you have a great story about the woman who ended up shocking Charlotte social circles by living humbly and then donating $6 million to good causes in our community? I need to know, to take that black and white photo she left and turn it into color. I can be reached at 704-358-5222;

Follow Olivia on Twitter @oliviafortson