I think the last time we had the whole family together was around Christmas 20 years ago.
That’s a long time ago, but with combined families, it’s often tough to fit a gathering date into everyone’s schedule. It’s something you just come to accept. My wife, Judy, and I have a combined family of four children and nine grandchildren, living in Central Iowa, Northern Iowa and in Missouri, south of St. Louis.
Simple logistics often prevent family gatherings. We’ve come to accept the fact that we spend time with children and grandchildren on different weekends. That’s great, but it’s nice to dream that we can get everyone together at the same time.
I still have that dream, even though we came close last weekend at the Iowa Newspaper Association Convention in downtown Des Moines.
My daughter, Karin (Bryan Worth), and son, Karl (Jenna), along with Judy’s daughter, Lori (Jeff Konzen), and son, Brent (Tori) Long, were all there. Six of our nine grandchildren – Micah, Tyler, Annika, Kyle, Anders and Kati – were also there. Unfortunately, Brent’s three children – McKenzie, David and Grace –were unable to attend. Still, there were 16 of us together and we took up most of two tables at the annual convention of Iowa newspaper folks and families.
There are certain occasions in one’s life that, quite simply, stand out. Of course, one’s wedding day, and births of children and grandchildren, are always at the top of the list. I’ve been fortunate to earn a few awards through more than 50 years of work, but the one presented to me on Friday evening tops them all. I was honored, but also humbled, to receive the Iowa Newspaper Association “Master Editor/Publisher Award.” Having my family there (I count my co-workers in Adel, Ames, Boone, Nevada and Perry as a part of my extended family) made the award all that more special.
The INA doles out countless awards during the evening, and does a tremendous job of moving things along rapidly. It’s still a long evening for kids, expected to sit still during a program that includes, among many guests, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.
Youngest granddaughter Kati “entertained” everyone by dancing near the podium. No one seemed to mind – she was very quiet while dancing for the folks. The family was seated at two tables and I made several trips back and forth during the evening.
I noticed 11-year-old grandson, Kyle, looking a little bored at everything, so I asked him, “Kyle, is this boring?” “Yes,” he replied. “At least everything except when everyone stood and cheered for my grandpa.”
The whole evening seemed to pass quite quickly. Before we knew it the banquet had ended and the family and I, along with countless others, soon adjourned to the hospitality suite, so generously arranged by my co-workers, where we continued to visit well into the night. Finally, it ended and my wife and I returned home to catch some sleep before meeting with my daughter and her family for breakfast before they returned to Missouri (granddaughter Annika, along with her junior high basketball team, attended the University of Missouri women’s basketball game Sunday afternoon).
I’ll admit, it was a short night of rest. The excitement of it all kept both Judy and I awake well into Saturday morning. Still, we managed to keep the breakfast engagement.
In the couple of days since, I’ve had time to reflect on it all and I can’t find the words to adequately express my deep gratitude to all my co-workers in Adel and at the other Stephens Media newspapers in Ames, Boone and Nevada. Publisher Geoff Schumacher nominated me for the award – when he told me he was doing so, I thought it was nice but that I had no chance of winning. I learned later that letters to the committee, supporting my nomination, were also written by Adel editor Allison McNeal, former editor Bob Eschliman (now Newton Daily News) and columnist and former Adel publisher Arvid Huisman. When Geoff told me I would be receiving the award, I was speechless. My thanks is also extended to the great INA staff who went the extra mile to make certain my entire family was treated so wonderfully.
Friday was my last day in the office. Friday night was one of the best days of my life.
Today I awoke without the hustle to get ready for another workday. I awoke with an unfinished book that will, no doubt, draw much of my attention over the next weeks and months. And, I awoke realizing that I not only have a wonderful wife and family, but a doggone great bunch of co-workers, as well.
Thank you, all of you.