Farewell, Pankonin

Because I said so

Well, this is it. The end of an era. The last Grant Tribune-Sentinel issue my name will appear as Brooke Pankonin. I will ring in the new year as Brooke Robertson. 

While I could not be happier about this new chapter of my life, I’ll be honest, I’m struggling with leaving my current identity behind. 

Growing up, my name was not anything special to me. It was a last name. Everyone has one. Mine was mine. It was a bit annoying. I always had to spell it after saying it, and those unfamiliar with it had trouble pronouncing it. Still do.

Pankotin (with a T) seems to be a common mispronunciation, which I can’t quite figure out. There’s not even a T in it. If you follow pronunciation rules taught in elementary school, you’re going to come close. Some of the attempts are just inexcusable. 

I receive a mailing at the office that comes to Brook Parkorn. Close enough I guess. 

I was eager to accept a new name when I first married at the age of 20. When I divorced at 29, I chose to take back my family name, and it took on an entirely new meaning. 

I realized how much I took a simple name for granted for 20 years. When I began working here over four years ago, it didn’t take long to realize I was related to roughly every single person in Perkins County. 

Pankonin descendants include not only the Pankonin name but Hatch, Schrotberger, Gloy, Holoway, Bullock, Schroder, Mosel, Cornelius, Uehling, Styskal, Wendell, Werner and more. 

John Long told me last week the Pankonins used to take up one whole side of the Grant phone book. Listening to all the stories of how everyone is connected is always interesting.  

Living in Ogallala, people always ask if I’m related to the people from the bakery. Yes, Brian and I have the same great-great-grandpa, making us third cousins. Interestingly enough, we both have another third cousin named Brian Pankonin whom I graduated high school with.

By the way, Brian, everyone REALLY misses the bakery. 

One of the many interesting facts about the Pankonins is we are all related. We aren’t like the Smiths or the Johnsons or the Robertsons, where there are different bloodlines who aren’t related at all.

Although it may be shirt-tail relation going back centuries, there is a connection. So if someone asks me if I’m related to [insert name] Pankonin and I’ve never heard that name in my life, I can still say, “Yes I am! I have no idea who they are or how we are related, but we are related!”

Most importantly, this name is the identity I have built for myself. It identifies my work every week in a newspaper I am proud of. At the state newspaper level, I’m recognized by this name due to the legacy my family has created in this business. 

I know a name is a very minor thing in the scheme of life, but I can’t help feeling that I’m losing a unique part of myself. 

Brooke Pankonin. 

I suppose there’s another one or two in the world. I don’t know any. 

There are a ton of Brooke Robertsons, however. Good grief, Nathan’s cousin’s name is Brooke Robertson, so there will now be two Brooke Robertsons in our family alone. 

Now listen, I know I don’t have to change my name, but that’s a choice I’m making as a wife. 

It’s important to me to take my husband’s name. 

I thought about hyphenating for two seconds, but a 17-letter, six-syllable last name just isn’t going to work. 

Looking at the bigger picture, it’s just a name. 

I’m very excited to join the Robertson family whom I love so much. I will take their name with pride and make it my own.

Farewell, Brooke Pankonin! See you next week, Robertson!

The Grant Tribune-Sentinel

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Grant NE 69140