With this column, I bid a fond farewell to those of you who have read some of my columns over the past dozen years, or so, since I returned to the newspaper field at the Dallas County News back in March of 2002.
Well, sort of, anyway. Although my days in newsrooms have come to an end, you’ll still read some of my stories written from home.
It’s been a great 50-year journey to get here, although that journey was interrupted by a couple of "retirements."
Yes, I called it quits in March of 2007. But, retirement and I didn’t see eye-to-eye and, when then-editor Bob Eschliman phoned in September of that year and told me they were "in a pickle" and asked if I’d come back to help for a couple of weeks, I didn’t need much coaxing to agree.
That two-week period stretched into about nine months before I again retired in June of 2008. Greg Eckstrom had replaced me as sports editor at that time, but when Greg left to become editor of the Boone News-Republican, I was, again, brought out of retirement to fill the sports editor job until a permanent replacement could be found.
However, weeks stretched to months and months to years. Then, in June of 2011, I was asked to give up the sports desk and become editor of the Dallas County News. I held that position until about a year ago, when I became a columnist/reporter for both the Dallas County News and the Boone News-Republican.
It’s been an enjoyable experience, but the time has come to step away from the daily grind.
And, so, this is my swan song.
Well, sort of.
You see, even though I’m giving up my daily routine, it’s planned that I will continue to write columns on a weekly basis – and maybe even a sports column or two along the way – for these papers. So, you may, at least periodically, see my columns in the Ames Tribune, Boone News-Republican, Dallas County News, Nevada Journal/Tri-County Times, Perry Chief and/or Story City Herald. You may even see a few news articles or features with my by-line.
The journey I took to get to this point stretches back more than 50 years.
On Nov. 4, 1963 – less than three weeks before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas – I began the journey as a sportswriter for the Fort Dodge Messenger. I was in Fort Dodge (even spending eight months on that city’s police force) until the U.S. Army called.
Although I played baseball much of my time in the Army, I also was sports editor for the Civil Affairs "Spot-Lite" at Fort Gordon, Ga., and the 4th Armored Division "Rolling Review" in Nuremberg, Germany.
When I got back stateside I worked a year for the Merrill (Wis.) Herald before moving to the Wausau (Wis.) Record-Herald as a sportswriter.
I worked at the Cedar Valley Daily Times in Vinton, then became editor of National Hawkeye Racing News. Later, my wife, Judy, and I founded Mid-States Racing News. I spent a few years as general manager of a couple NASCAR weekly racing track in San Antonio, Texas, and in Kansas before returning to Iowa after open heart surgery.
It was at that time, I became employed at the Dallas County News.
I’ve seen a lot during my newspaper career.
I got to cover both Iowa State and Iowa football teams and, of course, spent a lot of time at other professional sports in the state, most notably at the Iowa Cubs (Des Moines Cubs/Des Moines Demons/Iowa Oaks).
I covered the Milwaukee Brewers’ first-ever game (April 7, 1970 – a 10-0 loss to the California Angels), I was privileged to cover the Green Bay Packers on a semi-regular basis (yes, I still love the "Pack") and I was also able to cover some NHL games played by the Minnesota (then) North Stars. In the interim, I’ve covered the Daytona 500, and either covered or worked in the pit crew for races at Atlanta, Darlington, Rockingham, Charlotte. Phoenix, Talladega, the Milwaukee Mile, Michigan and Kansas.
This weekend (Feb. 7) I am honored to be recognized by receiving the "Master Editor/Publisher Award" at the annual Iowa Newspaper Association convention at the Des Moines Downtown Marriott. It’s humbling to have my name etched into the ledger along with so many great Iowa newspapermen.
It’s hard for me to understand how I could be on that list. But, I cherish the recognition. It’s especially humbling to know that my name will be on the list with, among others, Walter B. Stevens. You see, it was Walter B. who had enough faith in me, as a 19-year-old, to give me my first newspaper job back in 1963 at the Fort Dodge Messenger.
What more can I say? It’s time, now, to step down.
And, so, I bid you an adieu.
(Bill Haglund is a writer with Stephens Media.)