by Max Brantley
Meredith Oakley, columnist and associate editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is leaving the newspaper after almost 35 years there.
"It was time," Oakley told me at lunch, when I asked her to confirm a note I'd received overnight. She didn't elaborate other than to emphasize the decision was her own. She gave notice Tuesday and will be working two more weeks. Oakley was editor of the Voices page and reported to Paul Greenberg, the editorial page editor. She'll turn 60 in June and plans to seek other work, but she has no specific plans at the moment.
Oakley is the senior news/editorial employee at the newspaper. She went to work about a year after Walter Hussman bought the then-evening Arkansas Democrat in 1975 and rose through reporting ranks to a management position. She was a right-hand to John R. Starr, the managing editor during the fierce newspaper war with the Arkansas Gazette. The war ended in October 1991 with the closure of the Gazette and Hussman's purchase of its assets.