Jane Pauley: Co-op Roots, Active FutureBy Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff Writer Published: March 7th, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Jane Pauley belongs to an elite fraternity that began with Dave Garroway and includes the likes of Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric. But the former “Today” show host hasn’t forgotten her electric cooperative roots.
“My grandparents had a farm in Johnson County, Indiana, where I grew up,” Pauley said. “So I called the Johnson County REMC yesterday, just to verify that my grandparents, as I suspected, were members. Yes, they were members from 1943 to 1958, when they sold the farm.”
After some checking, the co-op found her grandfather Fred Patterson. “They said… ‘You know, there’s a balance on that account,’” Pauley said to laughter from the audience at the March 5 closing session of NRECA’s 2014 annual meeting.
Pauley co-hosted “Today” from 1976 to 1989, went on to anchor “Dateline NBC” for 11 years and then hosted a talk show.
She now appears on “Today” in a monthly segment “Life Reimagined Today,” which focuses on people age 50 and up who are doing new things with their lives. That’s also the subject of Pauley’s new book, “Your Life Calling.”
During a chat with master of ceremonies Lou Green, Pauley said that unlike generations past, today’s Americans of a certain age can’t think about the rocking chair.
“I like to think of retirement … like a door that swings on a hinge, moving a person from something to something new,” she said.
“It’s just about staying creative, productive and engaged in decades where my parents were not thinking that way,” Pauley said, adding that she’s living proof.
“At 63, I discovered a passion for storytelling,” Pauley said, particularly stories that connect with people. And the book, she explained, is “not a ‘how to’ book; it’s more show and tell” as she shares stories—one or more of which might resonate with the reader.
Pauley also spoke openly about having a bipolar disorder. She takes medication and has not had a recurrence in 14 years.
“The 21st century has enabled us to recognize that a brain disorder is a treatable medical condition,” she said. And she thanked Green for bringing up the topic, saying, “A very important part of my life going forward is the ability to do advocacy work.”
Pauley received a standing ovation from her co-op audience. “I’m so grateful that you included me in your convention,” she said. “Fred and Edna Patterson would be so proud.”