We learned from the very best

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By Becky Cassell, Editor

"An all-around newspaper man should be able to write a poem, weigh corn, discuss the tariff, umpire a ballgame, preach the Gospel, beat a lawyer, report a wedding, saw wood, describe a fire, make a dollar do the work of ten, shine at a soiree, address a horticultural society, measure calico, abuse the liquor habit, test whiskey, subscribe to charity, go without meals, attack free silver, defend bimetallism, sneer at snobbery, wear diamonds, invent advertisements, overlook scandal, praise prize babies, delight pumpkin raisers, administer to the afflicted, heal the disgruntled, fight to the finish, set type, mold opinions, sweep the office, move the world, scorn the flesh and the devil, be everything, feel everything, see everything on this footstool at a small salary and support a family."

--The Pilot, Aug. 23, 1918

He's gone now, so I guess I can write whatever I want to and he can't veto it. The problem is that I already miss him and I know it's only going to get worse.

As many of you know, News-Journal Publisher Richard RoBards retired on Monday, after 36 years in the newspaper business.

When I say that Richard taught me what I know, I'm not being facetious. I've had other supervisors over the years, all of whom taught me much. But Richard is different.

According to the story at the time, when the News-Journal needed a receptionist back in 1986, Richard ran an advertisement in our classifieds. More than 100 people applied, including me. Since there were so many of us, he had us take a grammar and spelling test and, from there, he interviewed those who scored the highest, eventually choosing me.

And in the past 22 years, Richard has given me the opportunity to wear many hats - from my beginnings as a receptionist, to proofreader, to assistant bookkeeper, to social writer, to staff writer, to news editor and, finally, to editor.

With each of those job changes, he has taught me more. But journalism is not all that I - and others - have learned over the years. I have also learned fairness, ethical practices, high standards, thoroughness and, yes, stubbornness, too.

I have literally grown up at the Central Kentucky News-Journal. And Richard has been there to guide me. In fact, I've worked with Richard longer than I lived at my parents' house, longer than I went to school, longer than I've been married and longer than I've been a mother.

At the top of this page is a quote I found in my files. While it's obviously quite dated, there's a lot of truth to it. And there's no one I have ever met who personifies "an all-around newspaper man" more so than Richard RoBards.

Indeed, he has most certainly umpired a ballgame during his time on the board at Trace Creek Girls' Softball. And while he may not have preached, he certainly knows his gospel and has had a Bible in his office as long as I've known him.

There have been times, I'm sure, when he might have liked to "beat a lawyer," but he appropriately restrained himself. He has certainly reported a wedding (the very least of which was mine, with wonderful photographs to boot). I don't think he has measured calico or defended "bimetallism," but he has certainly sneered at snobbery, invented advertisements and delighted pumpkin raisers, as evidenced in our newspaper pages over the years.

In the past three decades plus, I can guarantee that he has set type on numerous occasions with his perfected hunt-and-peck technique and helped to mold the opinions of many as well as swept the office. (He is also quite good at shoveling snow from the ramp leading to our parking lot.)

I can also say that he has often administered to the afflicted, for I have seen it with my own eyes. Richard has given untold hours and dollars to charity, from shaving his head for cancer research to volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters. He has also encouraged that same sense of giving through our office. Over the years, the staff has donated both time and money to multiple organizations.

As for "healing the disgruntled," by the very nature of our business, well, there is the occasional unhappy reader. However, with his extreme sense of fairness in mind, most leave after a confrontation in his office, if not exactly happy, then at least understanding of our duty to the public.

As for the future, all of us here at the News-Journal will take what Richard has passed on to us and continue serving our community.