Farewell, Dear Friends, Farewell
“Goodbyes are not forever; goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I’ll miss you, until we meet again.” — Anonymous
On March 23, 2002, The Phoenix published my first Think About It column; 15 years and, after today, 757 columns later, this will be my last. And, since this is my last column, I feel like I have a million things I want to say but, as usual, I am limited to about 685 words.
First, I will always be profoundly grateful to Stan Huskey, editor of The Phoenix in 2002, as well as subsequent editors, who allowed me to have this small voice in our wonderful Phoenixville community and beyond. I could never have reached this moment without their warm professionalism and consistent generosity to include my column in their editorial decisions.
I have loved writing this weekly column. Over the years my goal has remained the same. After reading the column, I wanted people to say, “I didn’t know that” or “I wish I had said that” or “That was really interesting” or even “That made me smile.” Some columnists try to stir up controversy but that was never my goal.
Where did I get my ideas? Just about everywhere. I was always looking for them. Ideas were like plants. They started as a seed, just one thought loaded with potential. Soon a little sprout emerged, fragile and a mere vision of the future. In time, it grew to full bloom. Gardeners and writers have a lot in common. Over the years you and I have pondered topics from butterflies to current events and from boomerangs to community leaders and beyond.
Evie and I came to Phoenixville from Minneapolis in 1997 to serve at the University of Valley Forge. I had no idea then that within five years I would have this wonderful opportunity to connect with so many new friends through this weekly communique. Over these years we have seen the transformation of Phoenixville before our very eyes as a preferred place to work, live and play.
On June 30, 2016, Evie and I retired from our ministry at the University of Valley Forge. We will always cherish our 19 years there. Now we stand on the sidelines cheering UVF on to greater victories in the days ahead. A piece of UVF will always be in our hearts.
Around the beginning of February 2017 we will be moving to Lancaster, Pa., where we will be closer to family and childhood friends. But as we leave this area, we will also take a bit of our beloved Phoenixville with us. We will always be profoundly grateful for the friendships we have made here and the gracious ways you have treated us during this season in our lives. We came as strangers but now we leave with Phoenixville and countless new friends wrapped around our hearts.
We are so very proud to have been in this community. Together, we have broken ground and cut ribbons. Together we have attended celebrations and funerals. Together, we have labored over agendas in business meetings. Together, we have bought groceries, had our clothes dry-cleaned, filled our cars with gas, voted for our favorite candidates, attended First Friday events and taken detours while new bridges were being built.
I will miss those times when our paths crossed and you occasionally mentioned something interesting and then with a twinkle in your eye you would abruptly stop and say, “Think about it.” We both knew you were referring to my column. But now the time has come to bid you farewell, dear friends, farewell.
In 1903, Dr. Jeremiah E. Rankin, the sixth president of Howard University, wrote the words for one of my favorite hymns. This is my prayer for you.
“God be with you till we meet again; By his counsels guide, uphold you; With his sheep securely fold you, God be with you till we meet again.” Think about it.