April 19: Happy Birthday! Mary Ellen Garber

Mary Garber

Mary Garber was born on this day in 1916, in New York City, to Mason and Grace Garber.  She moved to Winston-Salem in 1924, and graduated from R. J. Reynolds High School and Hollins College.

At Reynolds High School, her nickname was “Pip,” and her ambition was “to be a journalist.”  She worked on the school newspaper, and her other activities were sports (basketball, swimming, hockey, soccer and track) and French.  Her senior photo is below:


She joined the Twin City Sentinel in 1940 as a society reporter.  When the male newspaper staff members left town to serve in the military, Mary transferred to the newspaper sports department, and began covering sports.  After the war she moved to the news department, but returned to sports in a couple of years.  Sports and sports writing were her passion, and she made this her career for more than 50 years.

When Mary began covering sports in the 1940s, the sporting world was not set-up to accept or accommodate female journalists.  Mary encountered people who thought she didn’t belong in this field of journalist, and definitely didn’t belong in a locker room.  But she kept at her profession and countered the rebuffs with excellent reporting and interviews.

Gradually she became a familiar face at sporting events and around the locker rooms.  She retired from full-time employment in 1986.  However, she continued to cover tennis and to be a regular presence at the newspaper.

Mary received many awards and honors for her sportswriting career.  In 2005 she received the prestigious Red Smith Award, The Associated Press Sports Editors’ highest honor, and was the first woman to do so.   And, she was named to the R. J. Reynolds High School and the Hollins College Sports Hall of Fame.

Mary passed away in 2008.

Photo courtesy of Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection.

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