• 72°

Good-bye and Godspeed to an old friend

It is always good to see someone you care about move ahead in life.

When I first met Robert Blankenship I learned we had a number of things in common. We both went to The University of North Alabama, in Florence, and studied journalism under the same great woman. We both hail from an area of the state that was once known as the tri-cities. It later became known as the quad-cities when the city of Muscle Shoals was formed, and has now become known as simply The Shoals as more and more communities continue to join its growing economic region. And, we both grew up playing the same golf course even though neither of us can play golf very well.

Robert came to work for The Greenville Advocate almost two years ago, and has seen the staff here change drastically during his tenure. When I was named managing editor here in May of 1999, Robert was here to show me around. We spent a lot of time together during those first few months (which is where I learned that neither of us play golf very well), and Robert and his wife Melissa became friends of mine from the very beginning.

One of the first things I learned about Robert was that he will always give something his best shot whether he knows how to do it or not. And as the manager of his department, I have depended on that quality in him day in and day out.

Robert is no stranger to hard work, and he has demonstrated time and again a strong dependability under pressure.

No matter how much work has piled up on us over the last year, and no matter how small the staff doing that work became, I always knew I could depend on Robert to help me get the newspaper to our readers.

But, Robert is leaving The Greenville Advocate. It is a sad day for us because he's leaving, but it is a happy day for Robert and his family because he is moving on to bigger and better things.

Last week Robert was offered, and accepted, the position of managing editor of The Atmore Advance. And, while Greenville is losing a good friend, readers in Atmore can be assured that they will be getting someone who honestly cares about their community. Robert is a fine community journalist and will make a good editor. We should all wish him good luck in his future endeavors.

The news staff at The Advocate will surely miss Robert. In fact, this all has happened so quickly that I am not sure I can replace him right away. Unfortunately for all of us, the people who will miss Robert the most will be the communities he has served. During Robert's short time with us he has helped document the lives of people from McKenzie to Hayneville, and through a quiet manner and honest determination he has shown himself to be a very capable and diverse individual.

He has covered local governments and education, sports, and human interest with equal ability, has endured dozens of grueling county commission meetings, and has done hundreds of interviews with people while always trying his best to be understanding and compassionate. If he continues to put in the same effort in his new job, he will definitely be successful.

Seeing someone you care about get a promotion can have a very motivating effect. The Atmore Advance is part of the Boone Newspaper family, and I was very happy to see Robert get a chance to move forward in his career. While we will all miss him, the fact that he is moving up has motivated us all to try harder, and always remember that the people in the communities we serve are the reason why we all have jobs.

Congratulations, Robert. You have served this community well, and you deserve the opportunity you have been given. Work hard, be sincere, and always remember that you are there for the service of your community.

As much as you will be missed here, I am sure Atmore will welcome you to your new home. Good luck.