Editor rides into the sunset

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gold_pocket_watch__updated__for_xwidget_by_jimking-d5o6g4uCraig teared up when he started to thank everybody gathered for his retirement party in the newsroom.

I’m guessing that he had served as the Journal Gazette‘s editor in Ft. Wayne for 30 years, maybe more. During our tenure together, more than 20 years, he chaired the editorial board and pretty much had final say on the wording of the editorials that I and my two writers had composed.

Thursday afternoon reporters, editors and retirees such as myself stood around, greeting visitors and enjoying the punch, cookies and other snacks. I enjoyed seeing the old pros such as Dell who had written feature stories long before I joined the paper in 1982. I spoke briefly with Dean, a photographer and also a veteran.

I got a hug from Julie the publisher. Her dad was the publisher when I wrote editorials and personal columns. He passed away a year or so ago. But I knew before that Julie was being groomed to take over for the family business.

Mike, my copy editor, greeted me. I shook hands with a few writers I recognized from other departments. I was especially pleased to say hello to today’s editorial writers, Karen the page editor who joined the paper when I was still there and Tim, back from management jobs at other newspapers and an editorialist in my early days.

I retired in the year 2000. And I hadn’t stepped into the building since. I guess I didn’t want to invite an attack what-ifs nostalgia. But I as looked over the newsroom, the familiar copy desk in front, followed by rows of desks holding computers, I was reminded of this basic democratic feature of our country – freedom of the press.

I couldn’t miss a few changes in the newsroom. For example, the sports editor, whom I had never met, now occupies my old office.

Every day, these professionals I was honored to mingle among Thursday not only labor to produce one of the Midwest’s finest newspapers every day. They might not give this a second thought: They are doing their part to protect that freedom.

Now Craig, the retiring editor, leaves the newsroom on West Main knowing that Sherry, his successor, will lead the paper in the finest journalism tradition that my editor and friend so ably embodied for so many years.

As I wished him the best, I doubt that Craig was remembering the favors he’d done for me, the trips and tours he sent me and the kindness he showed me when my son was seriously ill in the hospital.

I was glad to see a few old colleagues. No, I didn’t drown in the nostalgia. Mostly, the reception gave me a chance to give this man a heartfelt thanks. I had a great job representing a great newspaper. And I got to work every day with one of the country’s finest editors. So enjoy your retirement, Craig. I’d say you’ve more than earned it.

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