A rewarding chapter partially closes

Published 12:08 pm Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bidding farewell to a regular presence on this page saddens me almost as much as leaving Franklin itself.

A publisher’s column on a newspaper’s Opinion page becomes a running conversation with readers, many of whom you don’t see face to face on a regular basis. Though it may seem like a one-sided conversation, it’s not. Through letters, emails, phone calls and text messages, you challenged me, chided me, applauded me and encouraged me, sometimes all in the same correspondence.

Rare was the Saturday morning over the past seven years that I didn’t hear from at least one of you about something I’d written in this space. A few of my most faithful readers — like Bob Edwards, Mac Coker and Jack Camp — have passed on, and I miss them dearly. It’s hard even for a wordsmith to describe the motivation and fulfillment derived from reader interaction, and I will miss your words more than I can express.

Professional obligations at my newspaper in Suffolk require me to live in that city and build some business relationships that cannot be built from afar. That 20-mile change of residence partially closes a seven-year chapter of my personal and professional life that rates as my most rewarding and enjoyable.

In this digital age when my writing is accessible several states away by simple Google search, there’s some risk in comparing communities where I have lived and published newspapers.

So be it.

Franklin has been my favorite, and I am grateful to be able to keep one foot in the door of this wonderful place I’ve called home since 2006. My wife, Rhonda, will continue to lead the Village at Woods Edge, and I will maintain my ownership interest in this newspaper, even as Tony Clark completely assumes the leadership reins. That transition began a year ago, and Tony has proved himself more than capable.

Rhonda and I will remain active in Franklin-Southampton life and be among the area’s biggest non-resident cheerleaders.

Perhaps if I’m really nice to him, Tony will give me occasional space on this page to share a few thoughts with you about a topic or two of mutual interest. For old times’ sake.

STEVE STEWART is the publisher of The Tidewater News. He can be reached at steve.stewartk@tidewaternews.com.