melissa

Melissa Matczak, left, is leaving The World-Herald after 22 years. She said the newspaper gave her a family in Omaha, including husband Jeff Matuella and daughters, left to right, Mary, Alice and Lucy.

World-Herald Executive Editor Melissa Matczak’s last day in newspaperland is Thursday.

Then she leaves us to become senior manager of communications at The Scoular Co. It’s a name you might recognize from countless wedding receptions that have been held in the company’s beautiful ballroom in downtown Omaha, across the street from Central High School.

Scoular is a grain-trading company, which puts Melissa back in touch with her ag roots: She grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, about a half-hour north of Green Bay.

Melissa started at the paper in 1997. She helped interview me in 1998, so you can either blame her or thank her for that hire. I had just left a Louisiana high school classroom, where I taught English. She was then the education reporter, covering the Omaha Public Schools.

I introduced her to Jeff Matuella, an old Creighton Prep friend whom she wisely married. She introduced me to the first of two nannies we would share over the course of raising our children. We each have three, and they have grown up together.

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Melissa started momaha.com,The World-Herald’s parenting website. I sometimes wrote for it. She beefed up our newspaper’s online presence. That will be our lifeline.

In 2017, she made history as The World-Herald’s first woman executive editor.

She was my boss and also my friend, and we have shared both a love for journalism and also the agony of what constant deadlines mean for a semblance of family life.

Melissa said she thanks her lucky stars she landed in Omaha. When she came, she figured she’d be a short-timer, putting in a couple years at The World-Herald before moving somewhere else. She had no family or friends or reason to stay.

Then, two decades later, she is deeply rooted. And that’s because of the newspaper.

“The World-Herald has been my family. The community is my family,” she said. “Much of what I have today is because of The World-Herald.”​

erin.grace@owh.com, 402-444-1136

Metro columnist

Columnist Erin Grace has covered a variety of beats since she started at The World-Herald in 1998 — from education to City Hall and from the city's western suburbs to its inner-city neighborhoods. Follow her on Twitter @ErinGraceOWH. Phone: 402-444-1136.

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