Laura Myers covered the world for The Associated Press and several newspapers, including the Las Vegas newspaper, now a little a bit of her ashes have been spread in far flung reaches of the world.
On Sunday a dozen friends and former co-workers spread the last of those ashes at Red Rock Canyon, where she loved to hike and climb. Ashes also have been spread at Lake Tahoe and in California, I think, and recently Jeff and Jenny Scheid left some along the Camino de Santiago in Spain, which Laura had said she wanted to hike. Myers died of cancer in June of 2015 at the age of 53, before that could happen.
Her obituary by close friend Jane Ann Morrison described her passion:
She lived to work. Though diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in March 2013, she worked steadily until six weeks before her death. Despite excruciating pain, she was a prolific writer, breaking news and crafting stories that were thorough, accurate, clear and fair. She kept her personal political leanings to herself and out of her stories, though activists from each major party often accused her of leaning one way or another.
She was so concerned about not showing or even forming any inkling of bias toward any of the candidates she covered that she told me she refused to vote in any of the races she was covering.
Myers was inducted in the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame a year ago to commemorate her remarkable career, which began in 1984 at the Reno Gazette-Journal:
The Associated Press hired her in 1988, first to cover news in Carson City, then San Francisco-San Jose, Calif., where she covered the Rodney King riots.
She would leave and return to the news cooperative several times over a 20-year career. Her first departure was in 1992, when she joined the Peace Corps in a remote village in Togo, West Africa.
In 1995, the news agency offered her a plum job covering politics, foreign affairs, the military and national security in Washington.
The AP had to wait, though, because Myers had a three-month contract with the American Refugee Committee, managing logistics at a refugee camp in Goma, Zaire, now the Congo.
During the 1990s and 2000s, aside from her day jobs, she worked with Habitat for Humanity in Uganda, Mongolia and New York.
After another stint with AP, in 2007 she worked for Food for All of Washington, distributing food to the needy and the elderly.
As Morrison explained, Laura Myers was a huge movie fan, and it was the movie “The Way” that inspired her desire to trek the Camino de Santiago.
I hired Laura in 2010 to cover the senatorial campaign on the recommendations of two of her friends and former co-workers — Morrison and Laura Wingard.
I think I first understood what a talented reporter Laura was when I read her profile of Sharron Angle, then a long-shot but the eventual nominee of the Republican Party to take on Harry Reid in 2010. It was the first time the people of Nevada got an unvarnished glimpse of this hard-driving, tough-talking, and deeply-devout politician.
You can tell the true mettle of a journalist by what she has written.
The profile was skillfully crafted, using metaphors to paint a word portrait of a many-layered candidate. It was matter of fact, without the judgmental tilting so many liberal journalists resorted to in reporting on Angle as a Bible-thumping, pistol-waving grandma — though Laura conceded later that she was a bit surprised when Angle showed her the pistol she carried in her pickup.
Laura wove anecdotes into political insight. The story was no cream puff though. It noted that four out of 10 voters did not recognize Angle’s name with less than three months until the primary. It quoted one of those ubiquitous experts as saying her chances for the nomination were slim.
In her obituary Morrison quoted then-Deputy Editor James G. Wright, who had worked with Myers in Algeria, as saying, “Laura was absolutely fearless, and she was one of the smartest and toughest people I’ve ever known. She had a great sense of humor, truly cared about people and was intensely loyal to her friends, but at the same time she was a loner. She made her own way in the world, on her own terms, and she didn’t give a damn if anyone else liked it or not. She embodied the Nevada spirit.”
Hers was an indomitable spirit.