At the end of this month, those who are current members of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists will gather for their annual convention. I am no longer a member; hence I am no longer going. For several reasons.

I guess the first is that I am no longer willing to cope with airports. I am also no longer willing to cope with writers who call themselves columnists who have not earned their stripes.

Time was, good reporters who wanted to go that route were given a column as a reward for years of dedicated service. That is no longer true, and all the bloggers who contribute their work for free deem themselves as columnists and join the NSNC.

I used to go to conventions, which were full of unusual people just like me. That’s no longer true.

However, I have been blessed with a cadre of really good columnists right here in this paper. I wonder if the editor knows how truly lucky he is to have recruited such a phalanx of talent. I am guessing he does.

Several of the really good contributors to these pages are doctors, which is no surprise, considering that with UTMB in our neighborhood, we have a plethora of physicians.

But whoever heard of doctors who could write?

Surprise, surprise.

One I’ve known from my reporting days is Dr. Michael Warren, who was on the health board when I was covering it as a reporter.

As you might expect, he writes about health things, like how to be a good patient. But he digresses into all sorts of interesting ideas having little to do with medicine.

I know he is a pretty big wheel at UTMB, but Dr. Victor S. Sierpina also writes, beautifully, about all sorts of things. His most recent offering centered around his garden and the joy of growing and sharing veggies.

Dr. Melvyn Schreiber is also at UTMB, but his columns are never medical. He also writes book and opera reviews, but his essays on other subjects are my favorites.

A doctor of a different stripe is Dr. William Johnson, a horticulturist who keeps us all informed about flowers and weeds, thrips and slugs. I used to edit his weekly contribution to the Texas City Sun and always loved it because he is routinely funny.

A job I always thought I’d love is held by Janice Law, who gets to be a travel writer.

And yet, most recently, she urged us all to join in singing “The Star Spangled Banner” on Flag Day, June 14. How great is that?

Last, but certainly not least, is Leonard Woolsey, the new big boss at the paper, who is a really good wordsmith. And that’s a surprise, because publishers usually come from the advertising side of the newspaper.

Dolph Tillotson was an exception. And so is Woolsey.

Sometimes my friends will say, “I only buy the paper to read your column,” which is nice, but not true. I know they read the obits first.

But don’t stop there. Try out all these other guys.

They are treasures, and this paper is blessed.

Cathy Gillentine is a columnist for the Daily News and can be reached at

(3) comments

Chris Gimenez

I'm sure the convention won't miss you as I never believed your articles were written very well. I thought you must have known someone at the GCDN who allowed your stuff regardless.

Lars Faltskog


In the words of Taylor Swift: "Why You Gotta to Be so Mean?"

Jim Casey

"But whoever heard of doctors who could write?"

Arthur Conan Doyle was a physician, though he will be remembered forever as the creator of the fictional Sherlock Holmes.

My favorite physician-author, however, is Oliver Sacks, best known for "Awakenings"
—though one can fill a bookshelf with his wriiting.

- Jim

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