There is a disturbing item on my “to-do” list from last week that I can’t bring myself to remove from my calendar.
I was supposed to meet with my long-time co-worker, Cathy Neelon, to go over the highlights and new additions to our new fall schedule on the Astound TV Network that launched this Monday, but tragically, that meeting never took place.
Cathy was killed in an automobile accident on her way home from covering a local high school football game we did together the previous weekend.
Cathy was 55-years young.
Cathy started her career as an intern with ATVN’s former company, Twin County Cable TV, in 1989. Long-time Studio Manager Rick Geho recalls that for one of her first assignments, the production crew had to run multiple extension cords to telecast a soccer game. Because so many power lines were used, the breakers kept tripping and it was Cathy’s chore to keep resetting the breakers through the game.
A short time later she asked if the station needed a graphic operator. She was quickly hired for the role and occupied that position for the next 33 years.
Cathy was a pet lover and would retell many pictures and humorous stories about her beloved cats. She enjoyed being creative with her drawing and liked the theater. She was a frequently active participant during the heyday of the Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight performances at the Lehigh Valley. According to Geho, one of her favorite ‘non-graphics’ duties was to run camera for the original local program, The Sturdy Beggars, an avant-garde sketch-comedy show. She was particularly proud of an extensive camera move she incorporated during the show’s parody of The Godfather.
Among her favorite experiences with the crew were the pre-game dinners we frequently had when traveling outside the area and after the set-up was completed for an event to be broadcast the next day. Geho recalls that she enjoyed the opportunity to sit down in a relaxed setting with all her co-workers and share stories with everyone.
Cathy was one of the first people I got to know when I started as a part-time employee in late winter of 1997.
Back then, she was still a “newbie” among the full-time staff members with many of the more tedious responsibilities falling to her. Because of this, she was a “go-to” person for me in those early days, dealing with paperwork, learning new policies and just getting used to the procedures and the ways things ran at our studio around that time period.
I quickly learned that she held a love for all local sports and athletic heroes, but particularly for her alma mater, Allen High School. (She was thrilled that my first “story” was a feature on the-then new Allen Boys Basketball Head Coach, Doug Snyder).
I also learned that she was an amazing speller and had great success in scholastic competitions back in the day. She was ecstatic that we had the opportunity to broadcast the spelling bees we used to do from the Farmerama Theater at the Great Allentown Fair (she was devastated when the Fair stopped hosting the event a few years later).
Cathy had a passion for horse racing (some years she even offered to write a blog right around “Triple Crown” time, recalling her memories of watching previous races with her family members).
Among her duties with the Astound TV Network was producing graphics for our local sports and original programming, coordinating messages seen on the ATVN Community Bulletin Board and putting together on-screen guides and television listings for all of our programming, including many of the classic shows and movies often featured here on this blog each week.
So instead of meeting with her last week to finalize my notes on the new fall programming schedule, I spent that time planning a tribute we paid to Cathy’s memory on last week’s “SportsTalk” show, which you can see through ATVN on-demand, if you missed the program.
Our deepest condolences to Cathy’s immediate family as well as the extended family she generated through her decades of dedication and hard work in the local sports community.
She will be missed!
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.