It’s not goodbye; it’s ‘see you around.’
People who love their jobs never really retire from them. The jobs become part of their blood and bones. And that would be me. At age 70, I retired recently from my 20-year job as editor of the Sartell-St. Stephen/St. Joseph Newsleaders.
But not really; it’s not a total retirement because I will continue to write as a freelancer for those newspapers. I just can’t totally let go of a job I’ve loved so long.
My two decades with the Newsleaders have been wonderful years, thanks to the unwavering support of its founder/owner/publisher Janelle Von Pinnon. I often dubbed her the “Energizer Bunny” because she is non-stop passionately dedicated to providing local news through thick and thin. The word “quit” is not in her vocabulary.
There are so many people to thank, including the many talented and fun fellow employees I’ve worked with year after year.
Reporting is such a fascinating job because it involves an endless curiosity, always meeting people, each with a unique and fascinating story to tell. I’ve interviewed people from the entire spectrum of humanity: poets, inventors, gardeners, woodworkers, musicians, mechanics, street workers, high-achieving students, business entrepreneurs, historians, novelists, athletes, brilliant nuns, police officers, artists, doctors, nurses, teachers, stamp collectors . . . well, the list goes on.
In Sartell, there were so many happy, upbeat stories to cover: parks and trails developments, the beautification projects in the city, the creation of Pinecone Central Park, construction of the ice arena, the formation and subsequent success of the Senior Connection, the farmers’ markets, expansion of the medical campus, the building of Oak Ridge Elementary School, voter approval of a new high school – to name just some.
Nearby St. Stephen was also a pleasure to cover – its many interesting people, its Slovenian heritage, its entertaining centennial events, which included one of the most enjoyable, imaginative parades I’ve ever seen.
Annual Sartell events that were always fun to report on were the Sartell Summerfest, the Apple Duathlon and the always-heartfelt Memorial Day ceremony in Veterans Park. On a beautiful Monday morning, I was standing in that park, covering that ceremony, taking photos and notes. At one point I looked across the river at the Verso paper mill and thought to myself, “That may be an industrial plant, but it sure looks pretty on a morning like this with that baby-blue exterior.”
Two hours later, back home, digging a bush out of my yard, neighbors rushed over to tell me the Sartell paper plant had just exploded. I can still feel the shock I felt at that sinking moment. Covering news, obviously, is not always a happy job. The paper-mill explosion, the death of a worker (Jon Maus) and the plant’s subsequent closing were such tragic outcomes to have to write about. The death of that plant, a bedrock of Sartell for more than a century, truly did evoke an End-of-an-Era feeling.
There were so many good people in Sartell who regularly gave me excellent story tips – people such as Kaye Wenker, Sandra Cordie, Mike DeLuca, Lori Dornburg, Dennis Molitor, Amy Braig-Lindstrom, Jan Sorell, Carolyn Bertsch . . . too many to mention. But I want to thank them all. I hope they continue to keep those good story ideas coming to the Newsleader, to the attention of its new editor, Mike Knaak, whom I’m happy to report was my college photojournalism teacher once upon a time. And Mike, lucky guy, is younger than me.
Not to forget, I want to thank our loyal readers and our supportive advertisers.
In my retirement – well, OK, partial retirement – I plan to do some traveling, novel-writing, oil-painting and – yes – some newspaper stories.
So instead of saying “So long, goodbye,” I’ll say “Hey, hope to see you around.”