In Praise of Betsy Kehne

 We don’t know how to say goodbye!

This week we say goodbye to a true Bay Weekly original, Production Manager Betsy Kehne. Betsy’s kind, wise presence at Bay Weekly goes back almost as far as the newspaper itself—26 years! When the staff joined Chesapeake Bay Media in January, Betsy’s quiet guidance carried us through the transition. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she helped us through challenges none of us could have imagined. I asked some of Betsy’s longtime Bay Weekly family to share their best memories of her impact. 

-Meg Walburn Viviano

Managing Editor Kathy Knotts: 

Betsy Kehne will be missed terribly by the Bay Weekly family and by myself personally. Betsy is the kind of colleague you dream of, my island of calm when life became stressful. She was the perfect sounding board for what would or wouldn’t work in a story, a photo or an email. She frequently talked me down from a place of panic and worry, with quiet support and a much-needed voice of reason. She never got mad when I had to add something to the calendar of events late or asked her to deal with a phone call.  

Betsy’s position as the longest-serving staff member came in so handy when working with an advertiser or news source, because she had the backstory of nearly everyone Bay Weekly had ever crossed paths with. From donning a pink pig costume to cracking crabs together to our shared love of British television, all of my memories of Betsy are positive ones. We have some great stories between us, most of which I cannot print, but they will always bring a smile to my face. After we moved to CBM, Betsy’s presence kept me grounded and productive, since she was the busiest bee in the hive most days. Knowing she is just a mile or two away even now, keeps me smiling.  

Staff Writer Krista Pfunder: 

Every workplace has a person I refer to as “the glue.” The person you can ask any question: where do they keep the post-its? What time does so-and-so usually get in? At CBM Bay Weekly, that person is Betsy Kehne.  

But being “the glue” means more than knowing where everything is and how it works. It also means caring deeply about fellow coworkers and friends. From having me sit next to her space heater one winter day to always having snacks at hand when she realized I was forgetting to eat, she is the heart of the team. 

Ad Sales Representative Susan Nolan: 

Talent galore. An easy laugh. An ability to work artistic miracles before 7 a.m. Self-assurance and wisdom.These are just some of my thoughts about Betsy. 

Former Staff Members Tom & Margaret Tearman 

We summoned our collective memories of so many Thursday morning calls about delayed deliveries, so many ghost stories, Mother’s Days, Father’s Days, so many 101 Ways and Thanksgiving Feasts. And crab feasts, silly Christmas presents, playing pool (or at least trying to play pool.) And all those belly laughs, all shared with the absolutely fabulous Ms. Kehne. 

But the one standout Betsy moment, one we are reminded of pretty regularly, came about right after we were burglarized. You, knowing we were pretty far down in the dumps, mocked up a Bay Weekly cover featuring our much beloved dog, Roscoe. With it, you lifted our spirits, made us laugh again, and reminded us of what matters most. That cover is framed, and holds a place of honor in our barn, which is also Tom’s favorite place. 

Co-founder & Editor Emerita Sandra Olivetti Martin: 

Bay Weekly and Betsy are a story intertwined. Once upon a time, Betsy was the new blood fledgling Bay Weekly needed to thrive. 

I lured in this sweet, shy, self-contained girl, with an internship. She’d mastered the craft of writing so skillfully and cleverly in my University of Maryland classes. She joined my family’s newspaper while she still held her day job day as a secretary at National Institutes of Health. Betsy, with a degree in art, skewed from writing to design, illustration and production. Soon, she was co-founder Alex Knoll’s right hand in making up the paper and a utility player for everything else Bay Weekly needed — including reluctantly posing to advertise my bright idea of New Bay Times nightshirts. 

What would we do without her — and all she brought us? 

Betsy eventually left her day job, and found a house right down the street in my own neighborhood. She could see Chesapeake Bay out her bedroom window. She met Mark Behuncik—now her husband—in that same neighborhood. Such good fortune in so small a neighborhood. 

By the time Betsy and Mark married, she was stuck in our exhilarating rut: Put out a paper one week and recreate it the next—for more than a thousand weeks. 

Year by year—a quarter century in all — it was Betsy, Alex and I. Thousands helped us along the way. But it was we three who birthed each new paper … nurtured, nursed and cursed itHow many times was it too demanding, too lean, too routine, too little rewarded—yet she returned the next day? 

Betsy knows all our stories. The one about the intern who’d never learned to change a flat tire (and how she saved him from being crushed by a file cabinet) and the one about the suitor who tried to woo her with a box of foundling ducklings. 

Now Betsy has new stories to write, illustrate and produce. With Mark. 

All of the Bay Weekly team—past and present—wish Betsy a relaxing future full of joy, with no more weekly upload deadlines.