His name was Harry Reeves

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - OTIS RAYBON

His name was Harry Reeves. As cir­cu­la­tion man­ager of the Grif­fin Daily News he held all the de­liv­ery route books. He alone could give a boy a pa­per route or tell him to go home.

More than 54 years ago, there I was stand­ing in front of Harry ask­ing for a news­pa­per route. I would learn that Harry, as nu­mer­ous boys would af­fec­tion­ately re­fer to him, was the most gen­tle and hum­ble man I have ever known. He was also wise and I would learn that he could be trusted, and if I lis­tened he would give me solid ad­vice. He told me I needed a So­cial Se­cu­rity card. I was not sure what that was but I went and reg­is­tered for one. More than 50 years later I still have that card and as a soonto-be re­tired se­nior ci­ti­zen I re­al­ize that was good ad­vice.

We have all read ac­counts of how peo­ple find or stum­ble upon a job that trans­forms into a life­long ca­reer. I have lots of friends with great sto­ries about how they felt a “call­ing” into a par­tic­u­lar field or pro­fes­sion.

My rea­son for ask­ing for a pa­per route was very clear. Grow­ing up one of nine chil­dren, I only wanted to make money so I could dress nicer than my fam­ily could af­ford, and I wanted to save some of that money to one day buy a ’55 Chevy.

Al­though my chil­dren would ar­gue my choices in style I was able to achieve both those goals (ac­tu­ally I bought two ’55 Chevys).

What I did not an­tic­i­pate was I had en­tered a pro­fes­sion that would en­able me to en­joy a ca­reer of com­mu­nity ser­vice and help­ing those less for­tu­nate than my­self. Of course, I was much older when I re­al­ized that by build­ing re­la­tion­ships with fel­low em­ploy­ees and lo­cal lead­ers I could use my po­si­tion to help in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties, churches, civic clubs, schools and so much more. That’s what news­pa­pers can and still do for a com­mu­nity.

Some­one asked me re­cently the most im­por­tant im­pact news­pa­pers have had on my life. That’s an easy ques­tion. I met Bar­bara Hen­der­son, the young lady that would be­come my wife. One of my su­per­vi­sors at the pa­per asked me to go down­town to a lo­cal jew­elry store for an ad­ver­tise­ment. The owner there liked me and thought Bar­bara and I should meet. She and the su­per­vi­sor ar­ranged for Barb to be the only one in the store, mean­ing we had to talk. The ro­mance was on and 42 years later we have been blessed with two fine sons, Til­man and Will, and daugh­ters-in-law Sarah and Court­ney. This sum­mer we re­ceived an ad­di­tional bless­ing with our first grand­child, Palmer Til­man Raybon.

Bar­bara had ap­plied for a po­si­tion at the news­pa­per and I over­heard the pub­lisher and busi­ness man­ager men­tion her name. I in­formed them they could not hire her be­cause I was go­ing to marry her. I must say here that she for sure would have be­come the best news­pa­per per­son in our fam­ily. Our fam­ily has grown and pros­pered in part be­cause of com­mu­nity news­pa­pers.

We have worked in Ge­or­gia news­pa­pers in Grif­fin, Val­dosta, Amer­i­cus, Dal­ton, Rome and —thanks to my friends at Boone News­pa­pers — we served in Brookhaven, Mis­sis­sippi.

I men­tioned above the av­enue of com­mu­nity ser­vice and re­spon­si­bil­ity news­pa­pers are af­forded. Sure, we ful­fill the watch dog mis­sion of keep­ing an eye on lo­cal govern­ment. A com­mu­nity news­pa­per pro­vides a daily snap­shot of his­tory. No or­ga­ni­za­tion does it bet­ter. To do our job we must be re­spected and trusted. We have to be im­por­tant and rel­e­vant, and that re­quires we have au­thor­i­ta­tive sources. Our ed­i­tors and re­porters must check and val­i­date ev­ery­thing we place in the news­pa­per and de­liver to your door. Cer­tainly the in­ter­net and so­cial me­dia have changed the en­tire world. There is no more break­ing news, as most news is on so­cial me­dia be­fore any of us be­come aware. How­ever, read­ers re­quire that news­pa­pers not only get the story but that we get it cor­rect.

Many school kids visit the of­fices of Rome News-Tri­bune and other news­pa­pers we have served. Like me, they all love the print­ing press. When I have the op­por­tu­nity to speak with them I tell them if they are look­ing for a ca­reer that al­lows them to make a dif­fer­ence for their home­town and in­di­vid­ual peo­ple, to con­sider news­pa­pers.

Build­ing re­la­tion­ships to achieve goals has been im­por­tant in my life. Many of you have helped me in nu­mer­ous ways and I am thank­ful for your sup­port. If you are an ad­ver­tiser, sub­scriber, reader, com­mu­nity leader or a friend I thank you.

I have been for­tu­nate to spend my en­tire ca­reer in a pro­fes­sion very im­por­tant to the com­mu­nity it serves. Young peo­ple to­day may not have the same op­por­tu­nity. Tech­nol­ogy has changed ev­ery pro­fes­sion in our world. Some of that change is good and some is not so good. Rome News-Tri­bune has adapted and de­liv­ers ad­ver­tis­ing, news and en­tire print edi­tions on­line and across so­cial me­dia.

It has been a long time since I asked Harry Reeves for a pa­per route. I am glad his re­sponse was yes.

Otis Raybon is the pub­lisher of Rome News-Tri­bune and is re­tir­ing at the end of this year. We will miss hav­ing him in our of­fices ev­ery day.

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