For more than 50 years, Carrol Ediger has proofread the Christian Leader magazine, something the retired English teacher says comes naturally to her. But after the Nov/Dec 2023 magazine, Ediger put down her proverbial red pen, concluding her tenure as an official CL proofreader. That doesn’t mean she’ll stop proofing anytime soon.
“It just comes automatically,” Ediger says. “I graded so many papers when I was an English teacher that I proofread about everything I read.”
CL editor Connie Faber says, “Working through Carrol’s notes and corrections for an issue, it is obvious that she was an English teacher. Her explanation about a punctuation change or spelling error—it’s like being in school. Carrol doesn’t just make a correction, she explains why the change is needed. She checks every Scripture reference to confirm we have correctly given the chapter and verse. She also knows the idiosyncrasies of names of people in relation to where they live or their extended family. I will miss her expertise and the good chats we often have when I bring her the proof,” Faber says.
An affinity for spelling
Though a novice when she began proofing, Ediger’s career in English gave her credibility.
Ediger graduated from Hillsboro (Kansas) High School in 1953 and earned her secondary English degree from Tabor College in 1957. She taught one year each in Caldwell, Kansas, and Okeene, Oklahoma, before she and her husband, Ervin, bought a farm west of Hillsboro.
Once their three children were in school, Ediger went back to school, too, teaching high school English at her alma mater until 1992, where she had CL editors Don Ratzlaff and Connie Faber in class. She later earned her certification in library science and served as school librarian until her retirement in 2000.
Proofing the CL was something she could do on the side.
“There have been years, years ago, when the Leader was not known for being very accurate,” she says. “There were always a lot of errors in it, and it seems like when I got started, that was part of the reason they hired someone else to (proofread).”
A member of Hillsboro (Kansas) MB Church, Ediger has proofread the Christian Leader for five editors: Orlando Harms, editor from 1954-1976 when the magazine was still printed in Hillsboro, Wally Kroeker (1976-1985), Don Ratzlaff (1985-1998), Carmen Andres (1998-2003) and Connie Faber (2004-present).
“Each editor had a different idea of what it was supposed to look like, and each editor had their own idiosyncrasies,” Ediger says. “But that wasn’t my problem. All I had to do was keep proofreading.”
Over the years, Ediger also became familiar with various CL writers and their tendencies.
“I learned to know the different writers and what kinds of things to look for,” she says. “I try not to be too critical or think that I’m right when maybe there’s a possibility that I’m wrong. I trust my dictionary more than anything else.”
That said, Ediger has an affinity for spelling. Though details are fuzzy, she says she thinks she missed her first spelling word in sixth grade.
“I was always a good speller,” she says. “Maybe that has helped me over the years.”
Her proofreading pet peeve is misplaced apostrophes.
“People seem to think that that’s a difficult assignment,” she says. “I checked (apostrophes) pretty closely.”
Taking off her proofing glasses
Ediger says while she has enjoyed proofreading the CL, it’s time to take off her official proofing glasses.
“I knew I needed to (quit) because I really don’t think I’m as good a proofreader as I need to be anymore,” she says. “My mind wanders sometimes, and I’m old. I don’t like to admit that. I felt like I wasn’t being fair to the Leader anymore.”
Ediger’s family numbers 33, and she would like to have more time for family activities, she says.
Even they are not exempt from her proofing.
“My family all knows I’m a proofreader,” she says with a laugh. “They’re very careful when they send me anything in the mail.”
And yes, she intends to keep reading and proofreading.
“When the papers come, I quit everything else and proofread,” she says. “I really enjoy proofreading, so I’ll keep proofreading, I just won’t do it for a business. Once your mind has that bent to look for things, you don’t get rid of it right away.”
Janae Rempel Shafer is the Christian Leader associate editor. She joined the CL staff in September 2017 with six years of experience as a professional journalist. Shafer is an award-winning writer, having received three 2016 Kansas Press Association Awards of Excellence and an Evangelical Press Association Higher Goals award in 2022. Shafer graduated from Tabor College in 2010 with a bachelor of arts in Communications/Journalism and Biblical/Religious Studies. She and her husband, Austin, attend Ridgepoint Church in Wichita, Kansas.