This isn’t goodbye. This is just a tribute.

Published 4:56 pm Thursday, April 12, 2018

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June 1, 2012 seems like a lifetime ago. 

I knew nothing about Greenville, and even less about journalism.  In those early days, I spelled sources’ names wrong.  I accidentally found myself on I-65 when I just wanted to go to Walmart.  But my slip-ups, as numerous as they were tiny, were eclipsed by the kindness of this community.

I’ll be moving to Seattle at the end of this month to pursue a few industries that are near and dear to my heart.  Even though I’ve been to Seattle about half a dozen times, I’m not really sure what to expect.  I’m guessing there will be rain.

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And so, in my last week at the Greenville Advocate, I’d like to thank just a fraction of the people who made this place truly special for me. 

This is not a farewell letter, no.  This is just a tribute.

First of all, thanks to Andy Brown for being the best mentor one could ask for.  Everything I did as managing editor was an attempt to emulate you. 

Tracy, you set an impossibly high standard as a boss.  The ever-changing world of journalism presented its share of challenges for us here. But, inexplicably, your faith in me never faltered.   Tracy, that was more valuable to me than you know. Thank you.

Tammy, you are the warmest and most patient person I’ve ever met.  Without a doubt, you are the glue that holds the office together.

April, your talent with a camera is only eclipsed by your salesmanship.  Seriously, you could sell time to an inmate.  I’ve learned more from you than you may realize, and you’ve taught me how to be more honest with others as well as myself.

Angie, before we worked together in any official capacity, you once stopped me in the street and told me you enjoyed a movie review I wrote.  From that day onward, I was pretty convinced you were the only one who ever read those, but it also meant the world to me.  Thanks for the vote of confidence, and for the 17,438,212 stories you wrote last year. 

Fred, thanks for being the cool old dude who would talk with the office’s resident nerd about Star Wars movies over company lunches.  Working with you on the Signal has been a true honor.

I’ve had less time to get to know Courtney and Madison, but you guys made an immediate impact here with your youthful energy and ideas. I know I speak for the whole staff when I say that you’ve made this place better. 

Matt and Barrett, I’m so glad we hired you guys, and not just for the obvious reason of me no longer having to write 12 stories a week. You two are incredibly sharp, and I could not be more confident that the future of this paper is in great hands.

Also thanks to the Advocate extended family, including Cecil Folds.  I’ve secretly learned quite a bit from your photography, and I hope to see more of your pictures for years to come.

And I want to state here clearly, for the record, that Mrs. Kathy Pickens is the new metric by which I measure kindness and selflessness.  Covering the previous football season should’ve put me in a psych ward, but her help made a seemingly impossible task not only possible, but also easy.  You will always be one of my favorite people, no matter which U.S. coast I live on.

Speaking of football, I’d like to thank the various coaches that made my stint as sports editor an enjoyable one.  It was when I took on that role that I truly felt like I became a part of this community.  The prospect of losing four months’ worth of Friday nights each year is a whole lot more bearable under the Friday-night lights of Butler County.

Thank you to all of the school system employees, law enforcement officers and government officials who were patient with me these past several years.  Not only did you help me relay information to our readers, but I learned a great deal in the process.  Those experiences are ones that I’ll carry with me forever.

Shout out to the lovable ladies at Pizza Hut who claim I share a passing resemblance to John Legend.  I don’t see it, but I’ve learned not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

I’m equally grateful to the Walmart Subway staff members, whom I’ve bothered in some form or another by ordering the exact same thing at least twice a week for nearly six years.  Sometimes, you guys start making my sub before I walk in the restaurant.  I’m going to miss that.

Actually, I’m going to miss a lot.  There are dozens of people I couldn’t thank here, because otherwise we would need another four pages.

Though the thought of leaving this all behind is a depressing one, the sadness is proof that these past several years have been well spent.  I’ll be about as far from Greenville as one can be, but I’ll always take a piece of this community and its people with me wherever life leads.