LIMA — “Don’t let anyone take away your joy.”
Antelle Marie Haithcock lived by those words and when she died in 2010 they were chiseled into her tombstone at Woodlawn Cemetery. Short in stature with a voice robbed of volume by a long battle with asthma, Haithcock nevertheless spent more than 30 years in local media speaking to area residents as a reporter and the first black weatherperson at WLIO-TV, host of a gospel music show, reporter and columnist for The Lima News, and candidate for Allen County commissioner. For an even longer time she lent her voice to the choir at Lima’s Second Baptist Church.
When she died June 3, 2010, The Lima News managing Editor Jim Krumel wrote: “You didn’t have to know Antelle Haithcock long to be considered one of her friends. She called many people her friends. That usually meant being greeted with a wide smile and outstretched arms, followed by a heartfelt hug. Then she would ask a question about your family, job, mutual friend or an organization.
“Antelle Haithcock was simply one of the nicest people I ever met.”
She was born May 22, 1955, in Lima, the daughter of Harold Lawrence Haithcock Jr. and Phyllis Ann Green Haithcock. She was graduated from Lima Senior High School and the Howard School of Broadcasting in Southfield, Michigan.
Haithcock quickly found her way working as a weatherperson and reporter for WLIO-TV. Later she would work as a columnist and reporter for The Lima News. As a writer, Haithcock often wrote about her own life and how she connected her everyday experiences to her faith in God, the rejection of racism and the simpler joys.
In a column from Dec. 20, 2003, she recalled an early Christmas when she was waiting to come home from a children’s hospital in Cincinnati. “I was happy to be going home,” Haithcock wrote, “but what if I had an attack while I was home? It’s funny, I don’t think most adults believe kids think like that. An asthma attack is scary for both adults and children and I didn’t want to hear the sirens or hear my mama cry. I didn’t let on though; I acted like I couldn’t wait to get home.”
Haithcock had confronted the reality of asthma from an early age. In a News article from July 11, 1995, Haithcock vividly remembered being carried down the street in the arms of her mother who, desperate to get her help, stopped at a nearby fire station.
According to Haithcock, a firefighter told her mother, “I’m sorry. She’s gone.” A second firefighter, however, said, “Let’s try again,” Haithcock said.
“Haithcock was 8 years old, having one of her worst asthma attacks,” the News wrote. “At 9, she was taken to Children’s Convalescent Hospital in Cincinnati to get treatment. She stayed there for 1 1/2 years.”
“Haithcock’s asthma was so bad in high school that a teacher told her she couldn’t be a broadcaster because her voice was too airy,” the News wrote in a story from May 14, 1998.
The teacher was wrong. “The Lima resident landed a job at WLIO-TV when she was 19 and just out of broadcasting school. She started as a camera girl, but eventually set her sights on doing the weather,” the News noted. “It never occurred to her that would be a ‘first’ for blacks in Lima. She simply did her job, she said.” Haithcock would do her job at WLIO, which also included a stint as promotions director, for 28 years.
“During my years at the TV station, I was the host of ‘A Gospel Sound,’ a 30-minute music and interview show on the air from 1983 until 1998,” she wrote in a Nov. 18, 2003, column in the News.
Her words to live by grew out of the show. “I would always begin the show by saying, ‘Hi, everybody,’ and end it by telling my viewers not to let anybody take their joy,” Haithcock wrote. “I said, ‘Man didn’t give it to you and they can’t take it away. They’ll try. Some people will get on your very last nerve, but don’t let them do it. Don’t let anybody take your joy.”
Haithcock had other advice. On Dec. 28, 2002, in a tongue-in-cheek nod to the middle age it once looked as if she wouldn’t reach, she wrote, “Don’t complain about aches and pains because this is only the beginning,” adding that “it’s great to eat right and exercise. Many experts say this will help in the aging process. I agree. I don’t do it, but I agree with it.”
She had other, more serious advice, too. Krumel shared some of her thoughts in his June 2010 column:
About crime: “I have never denied that black people do commit crime. What I want people to realize is that most black people are not killers, thieves, drug dealers and addicts.”
On rejection: “I learned a long time ago that if someone doesn’t invite you to their party, have a party of your own.”
To a black child on the first day of school: “Don’t worry about prejudice. It’s there. Some teachers may have it against you; you may have it against them. Rise above it. The easiest thing in the world to do is fail.”
The welfare of children was on Haithcock’s mind when she decided to run for Allen County commissioner, telling the News she wanted to see the Allen County children’s home reopened. “I am very concerned about how our children are being treated,” she told the News on Dec. 20, 2003. “I believe that a facility is needed to help those children, and that’s what we don’t have.”
Haithcock lost the election in 2004 but had long since won the admiration of the community. On June 19, 2010, about two weeks after her death, Lima City Council approved a resolution memorializing Haithcock for her role in the media and work in the community.
Reach Meg Crosby at firstname.lastname@example.org.