Never too late to say ‘good bye’
Published 7:59 am Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Back in February of 1995, I relocated my family from California to Brownwood, Texas, to take my first management position in the newspaper industry. I found myself working for a newspaper publisher who, at the time I didn’t fully realize, would become a huge part of my life and reason that I would strive to become a newspaper publisher myself.
By the time I came along, he had been battling cancer for close to a decade. But by the way he embraced life you really wouldn’t know it unless he told you. Every few months he would be out of the office after getting his radiation treatments, but would still stay in contact with our management team at the Brownwood Bulletin through inter-office mail or phone calls.
After working for him for almost two years, my home phone rang on Jan. 1, 1997. It was the managing editor letting me know that our publisher, Shelton Prince, had passed away losing his inner battle. I found myself making my way to the newspaper, which was closed for New Years, and just sitting in his office numb to what I had just learned.
Shelton was from Alabama, and his funeral services were to be held in the town of Jasper. Being a production director at the time, I was unable to make the trip with the rest of the management team, which was a decision that I regretted for years after — at least until last weekend.
Over the years since his passing, I have worked for a number of newspapers and publishers. I was able to see the difference between someone who truly cared about the community he lived in and the newspaper he ran and a person who, quite simply, just did the job
Sure it was only two years that I was honored to work for Shelton, but his passion for work, life and community was infectious. I told myself many times over the years, if I ever get an opportunity to become a newspaper publisher that is how I want to be as well.
Last Friday, Sept. 25, we were having company meetings in Natchez, Mississippi. Prior to making this trip I told my wife that I wanted to drive to Jasper, Alabama, after the meetings and do something that was long overdue.
Saturday, Sept. 26, 18 1/2 years after this man was taken from us, I was finally driving into Oak Hill Cemetery in Jasper, Alabama, to pay my respects. Almost as though it was meant to be, I missed the first entrance gate and entered the second. As we drove down the first row, my wife watching out her side and I watching out mine, I had this feeling that we were getting closer. And as we made the first turn, there it was, a large headstone with the last name “Prince” on it.
I stopped the car, asked my wife if she would like to join me knowing all too well that she was going to give me the time I needed before joining me, then stepped out of the car and walked over to his plot.
I stood there for a few minutes. My emotions were starting to get the best of me, so I decided to take a seat on the grass to the left. I sat there for close to a half an hour thinking about past conversations, the pride I had in being able to know this man and smiling as I remembered his awesome laugh that was so filled with life!
I share this with you, the reader, to let you know that it is never too late to say “Good Bye”! And if you have had someone in your life that affected you in such a positive way, find a way to do so. You truly will not regret it.