Diane Toops, our beloved News and Trends Editor and a 24-year employee of Food Processing (and our parent firm, Putman Media), died October 31 following a brief illness.
Every month, Diane delivered three key features of Food Processing magazine. "Rollout" was certainly her favorite. Diane loved new food products—everything from the development and launch to the marketing of foods and beverages thrilled her. She sampled as many as she could. She truly loved everything about food.
"Food Biz Kids" was a carryover from her work on a previous magazine at Putman, Food Business. To my knowledge, no other magazine (or magazine writer) gives seventh- and eighth-graders a podium to critique new food products that are aimed at them. How Diane made sense out of some of the kids' comments, I'll never know.
Likewise, few magazines allocate their back page to editorial, much less a single columnist. It takes a strong personality to make people read beyond the classified ads. Diane was just that kind of personality. Her "Toops Scoops" column won a number of writing awards over the years as she took critical issues facing the food industry and stamped them with her insightful personal commentary.
With the advent of the Internet, Diane took up blogging on our web site, three times a week delivering what her job title said: news and trends.
She tirelessly worked the floors of so many food industry trade shows over the years, never showing the fatigue that people half her age show after a day full of smiles, handshakes and note-taking. She was just as tireless in her writing, always volunteering to do the toughest cover stories, interviewing more people than most writers have the patience for, writing more words than we could fit in the magazine. In that regard, the Internet may have been made for her – there was always room for more on the web. And she always wanted to tell her readers more, never less. As her editor in chief, I read every word she wrote for the magazine. I will soon find a replacement for the words; I will never find a replacement for the sweet soul behind them.
"With Diane's passing, the Food Processing team has lost a great colleague and dear friend," writes our publisher, Larry Bagan. "The food and beverage industry has lost a true superstar, an avid ‘foodie,' a proponent and a classy example of all that is good within our industry. It's been an honor to work alongside Diane for the past four and a half years, and to have her represent our industry via Food Processing. Her sincere warmth, understanding and passion can only be matched by her unique style and love of life—and of the food and beverage industry. Diane was able to connect with everyone, from industry professionals old and young to grade school kids. While Diane kept a watchful eye on us all, now she has an even better view of all we do. Diane's memory and spirit live on."
From our company's CEO John Cappelletti: "I will miss Diane greatly. I can't remember a meeting we had where she didn't have a smile on her face. Putman Media has lost one of the nicest, most humble and positive people I've had the privilege to work with in my 30 years here. She personified everything that makes a great editor: a natural curiosity, a passion for her industry, a dedication to bringing new ideas and insights to her audience every month."
There's a reading I hear at a lot of funerals: "In death our life is changed, not ended." Diane isn't gone. She's just moved on the next big trend—as usual, a few steps ahead of the rest of us.