OH BABY, PLEASE DON'T GO: The Northern Star's Julie Grace leaves us today after 47 years.
OH BABY, PLEASE DON'T GO: The Northern Star's Julie Grace leaves us today after 47 years. Cathy Adams

Farewell to the woman they call 'The Boss'

THE Northern Star's longest serving staff member, Julie Grace - the woman affectionately known as "Aunty JuJu” - retires today after 47 years with the newspaper.

When The Northern Star celebrated its 140th anniversary earlier this year, it was noted Julie had been working at the paper for a third of its existence - and during a period of accelerating change.

She started on March 17, 1969, back when the phones had dials, the main switchboard burst with cords, pay packets were in little brown envelopes, and journalists smoked at their desks.

"The paper was a broadsheet then and the ads, including the classified ads and lots of real estate and auction ads, were taken over the phone and written out by hand,” Ms Grace recalled.

"These days we don't even have phones any more, all calls go through the computer.

"I could go on and on talking about the changes I have seen over the years.”

Ms Grace moved through a number of positions on the clerical side of the business including reception, switchboard operator, finance and administration then moved into the editorial administration assistant role in 2000 under then editor Dean Gould.

Since then she's earned the nickname "The Boss”, as the person with a commanding knowledge of the intricate details of all-important pays, rosters and leave balances of many a journo.

"Sixteen fun years in editorial, my how the time flies, I wouldn't have thought I had been 'the boss' for that many years!” she joked.

Having spent so long around journalists Ms Grace is wise enough not to speak about any of the juicy bits, but sums it up by saying her husband Gary Buchanan is a former journalist at The Star.

She refused to answer any questions about interesting characters over time or major incidents which stood out - too many characters and too many memories to pick from - but she is happy to admit to missing the staff parties.

"Great Christmas parties we used to have, everyone came,” she said.

As for the future of the industry, she said the huge growing focus on online could soon upstage the traditional printed newspaper.

In retirement, Ms Grace said she was looking forward to finally using the caravan she and Gary had bought eight years ago.

"It's still like new,” she joked.

Gary retired five years ago, and has been waiting for her to do the same.

"I've enjoyed every moment of The Star, and now I'm excited about the next chapter,” she said.

"I'll do whatever I want, wherever I want, whenever I want.”



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