Dear Waynedale friends,
I come to an end, now, on writing this column that I have been writing every two weeks for ten years. In this time I have shared my life’s experiences, ideas and opinions with you, and hope that what I have imparted has at some time, had meaning to you. It has meant a great deal to me, and although my deadline seemed to come around quickly, it has been a gift to be able to put on paper, my thoughts and experiences, sharing my life with you.
What I want to write about, now, in my last column, is to talk to you about our past editor, Bob Stark. I have read two articles in the Fort Wayne papers talking about the new editors and their hopes of success. I, also, wish them every success. But today, I want to tell you of Bob.
His is a success story that needs to be told, and he would not tell it himself. Nor would he see himself in that light. But, he is. He had a happy childhood in Waynedale. He was the pole-vaulting champion at Elmhurst. He got married and then spent years working in circumstances that causes one to shudder. He worked in a copper rolling mill in which one slip of the hand or a brief moment of inattention could have meant severe injury, if not his life. He struggled to make the best life he could for three children who came in rapid succession. They are all privileged to have him as a father. He is a good, kind and honest man. If all one ever accomplishes in life is being a good father, then that alone makes him a success. But there was much more to Bob than fatherhood. He eventually traveled to Wyoming where he worked at Bridger Power plant. I think one of the neat things he did, was to go out in the desert and do archeologist digs by himself. He brought back many artifacts, which are amazing. He is an adventurer by nature and took advantage of the vast desert, and mountains. He could field dress large animals, which amazed me. He turned into a mountain-man in a way. It would take strength and fortitude to hunt alone, field-dress and bring back meat, which sustained him. In many ways, Bob is a pioneer, following in the footsteps of his great-great grandfather who followed the Oregon Trail to California seeking gold. He is good in ways that some people never achieve. When he had done everything he wanted to accomplish in Wyoming he returned to the Fort. He had no job and no prospects awaiting him. He was not cowed, but eager. I think that it takes a lot of grit to put yourself out there, not knowing what lay ahead, with faith in yourself to take what comes. He did this. He worked in conjunction with two of his other brothers in an oil analysis business for several years, but it came to be that the Waynedale News needed an editor.
It needed someone to take on the editorship, and in my opinion, save the newspaper from possible demise. Now, most of us would say…I have no experience, I can’t do that. Not Bob. He bought the business with the faith in himself that he would learn. And learn he did. He learned it all without one ounce of previous knowledge of how to run a newspaper. He took the Waynedale News from where it was struggling to an excellent piece of work. He went to places where he had never been, interviewed people he would never have had contact with, and even added color. He built success with his own two hands. When he bought the WN, I asked him if I could write a column and he welcomed me aboard. I had in mind a type of Ann Landers column, but when no one had any problems they wanted me to solve, I had to change my course and write about what I knew. Thus, I now have a written history, which would never had been written, had it not been for Bob and his generosity in allowing the flow to happen. He worked long hours and attacked with a willingness to learn. He applied all that he learned. He is an amazing guy and an unqualified success.
Now the time has come to shift gears. He has passed the baton to new, very educated and qualified people. He has put under his belt a wealth of knowledge, and passed that on, too. I really appreciated his willingness to let people use the WN as an avenue to have their voices heard. Lauren Britt will always be able to put on her resume’ the title of “columnist”. It was such a good experience for her and a great “growing” adventure. She began middle school and is a cheerleader, now, so she put her column on hold. But, it is something that she would never have been able to have experienced had it not been for Bob. When I look at his life as a whole, I am so overwhelmed at the fact of how he overcame every obstacle (and there were many), to challenge himself to be the best that he could be at everything he did. I know the new editors at the WN will have a good foundation on which to stand. We are all fortunate to have received Bob’s talent, effort and creativity for these past ten years.
And so, lest I go on and on, which all of you know I have a tendency to do, I know you will all join me in wishing Bob the very best of everything this world has to offer. People achieve greatness in many ways. Bob has achieved greatness in his very existence.
So with that, I will bid you adieu, knowing that I, and all of you, wish Bob every good wish for his future. I am grateful for his contribution to Waynedale, the WN’s and to all the people to whom he gave a chance. His kindness, wisdom, generosity, knowledge and goodness will never be forgotten.
Many blessings to all my Waynedale friends.
With great appreciation,