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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Friday, February 7, 2014

As I say goodbye, many thanks for so much goodness

When I look back at the woman who reported for work at The News-Herald on June 16, 1997, I barely recognize her.

Oh, I look much the same as I did 16 years, seven months and 25 days ago. Hair’s still mostly dark brown, weight’s again crept up to that level at which something should be done about it, and I’m still most comfortable in a pair of dress pants and a sweater.

But, after 16-plus years, so much is different.

I lost my father to cancer. I met and married a guy named Will. I became an aunt. I bought a house in my hometown.

Through each of those moments in time, one thing remained constant — I was lucky enough to work at The News-Herald.

People here care about each other. What one suffers, we all feel.

And, as I’ve changed, so, too, has my work. What started as designing pages and writing headlines morphed into a responsibility for the paper’s editorial page content. The copy editor occasionally writes. And, who better to do restaurant reviews than the woman who runs a weight loss contest?

I’ve been incredibly lucky: Taking chances is a part of life. If you don’t succeed, learn something from your mistake.
That’s one of the things I’ll most miss when I leave The News-Herald at the end of this week. Next week, I start a new job with The Repository in Canton.

My job here has changed me, in much the same way my life has undergone big changes.

When I walk out the door for the final time on Friday, I’ll carry in my heart those who’ve touched me over the years.

Their words, actions and stories are part of me. I’m better for the pleasure of knowing them.

Andre and Vicki Parhamovich: I never met their late daughter Andrea, but, through them sharing their love for Andi, I know how special she was.

Barbara Lorek: I often look at a photo of a bouquet of flowers Mrs. Lorek brought over to the paper after I mentioned in a column in 2008 the gorgeous garden she and her husband planted in their back yard in honor of their late son Joe.

Denis and Sheila Nowacki: Out of concern that people might someday forget their Andy, this dynamic pair made it impossible to think of him as anything other than a hero. I never knew their son, but he’s the reason so many of Northeast Ohio’s safety forces got the right start.

Michael Rae: The Mentor resident who took part in Police Unity Tour bike rides in honor of fallen police officers not only gave me a really interesting story to cover the past two years, he helped me reconnect with a good friend from college, Barb Apanites. Barb and her mom, Jacqueline Hlivak, have treated my husband and me like family.

Steven C. LaTourette and David Joyce: Thanks to them, I got a yearly reminder that kids today are full of drive, hopeful and worth our trust as the future leaders of the country. Sitting on these U.S. representatives’ panels that pick the nominees for the U.S. service academies has been one of the true joys of my life. That leads me to ...

Abraham Hribar: The Fairport Harding graduate completed his work at the U.S. Naval Academy last year, and is moving into his career with the Navy and now starting training to become a naval flight officer. Following him through his Induction Day on July 1, 2009, in Annapolis ranks among the greatest thrills of my career. Yes, sir!

Jaime Brenkus: The owner of Concord Township’s LEAN Living has been a partner in Lighten Up for the past four years, and, alongside Brenkus, I’ve seen people learn about themselves and their bodies as they work hard to change their lives and lose weight. More than 100 area residents have passed through the program, and we’ve had a lot of fun, shed a few tears and enjoyed some real success.

Mike Cicconetti: The judge forgave me when I told him I wasn’t always a big fan of his creative sentences, and has made helping to judge the Fairport Mardi Gras Parade a real joy for the past few years. He’s doing good work at Painesville Municipal Court, and I’ll remain in awe of his massive court garden that helps feed the needy of Eastern Lake County.

United Way of Lake County: They’re vigilant in providing for the unfortunate, and work incredibly hard to make sure they have a meal every day. As I learned taking part in the fund allocation process, your money is going to quality, worthwhile places.

David S. Glasier: My partner on in-depth packages for The News-Herald over the past five years has shown me that it’s OK to mix silly humor with fearlessness to make a mark in your career. In his role covering the Captains, he helps ease young, newly professional baseball players into a wild world of sports.

Scott Roller: Who would have thought that by signing up for his Euclid Citizen Police Academy course, I’d gain a brother? He’s not blood, but I’ve started to think of him that way, because there are precious few people whose advice, counsel and conversation mean more.

Tricia Ambrose: The executive editor believed in me, let me take some chances and rarely said no. I’ll miss the boss who gave me the courage to try.

It’s impossible to name everyone who left their mark on me over these past few years. Know that I won’t forget any of you.

Thank you all for your time, your patience and the way you opened yourselves to me. It means more than I can say.

I wish you the best.
Twitter: @Lauranh


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has been a pleasure working with you on the Lighten Up Contest. Your passion to help people with their journey to a healthier lifestyle was contagious. We will carry on your torch --but with sadness that you won't be with us. I truly wish the best of success for you on the next chapter of your life. Good Luck.
Jaime Brenkus

February 8, 2014 at 4:15 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will miss reading your column, good luck in this next chapter of your life.

February 8, 2014 at 7:03 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck, LK. You will do well because you work very hard and are committed and I respect that. I am not sure I have all the same people on a pedestal that you do, but we travel in completely different circles. ~ Old Blue

February 10, 2014 at 5:17 AM 

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