We have all heard the phrase “parting is such sweet sorrow.”
That sums up my feelings today, having ended my 44-year tenure with The Times and stepping down Friday as executive editor.
The decision to retire was tough but necessary. Doing so has left me with mixed emotions.
I look forward to having more time for family, traveling to places I’ve not visited and kicking back with a cold one in my favorite recliner.
But I will miss the high voltage of the newsroom. I have witnessed a lot of Northwest Indiana history, everything from politicians caught in the crosshairs of corruption to 43,000 jobs lost when steel began its decline or U.S. Rep. Peter Visclosky’s commitment to guard the Lake Michigan shoreline as the people’s place.
To be sure, I could name names from the region’s hall of shame. I could recount the “white flight” of the '70s. The controversy over casino gambling or many bizarre crimes.
Instead, I want to remember the great goodness that exists here. It is so often found in people’s small acts of kindness. It is the many fundraisers to benefit a sick child or pitching in to put a new roof on the home of someone who has lost a job,
Then, too, there are many organizations quietly filling a need in the community. The Crisis Center in Gary, Legacy Foundation, Tradewinds, Calumet Council of the Boy Scouts and on and on.
A lot has changed over 44 years for this boy who moved from central Indiana farmland to the backbone of the nation’s industrial might.
Along the way I have met so many fine people who make Northwest Indiana the great place it is. I would thank each one but that list would be never ending.
One name I must recognize is that of the late Clint Wilkinson, father of Strack & Van Til CEO Dave Wilkinson. He took a chance by hiring me. I learned a great deal from him as a newsman, but perhaps more importantly he taught me the importance of the newspaper in playing an active role in building an ever better community.
That is why I have become so entwined in the fabric of Northwest Indiana, maintaining balanced and fair coverage but encouraging those working for the good.
I am not done, though. As I exit the full-time job as editor I take on a new role in retirement, representing The Times as a community ambassador of sorts. I’ll stay involved with the issues, events, organizations and people of the region. Each Sunday I will author a column about them.
I exit knowing The Times – print and digital – will be in good hands. Bob Heisse, former editor in Springfield, Ill., takes my place. Bob. an experienced journalist, is sure to bring change to the newsroom with new ideas. That’s healthy. What won’t change is the newspaper’s dedication as a watchdog and leader in providing local information.
Finally, my thanks to you, readers of The Times. We have shared so much over the years. Let’s stay in touch.
For that reason I won’t say goodbye, only so long. I’ll continue our conversation with next Sunday’s column.