Richard Brockman, who died Monday, owned The Platteville Journal for 31 years before he sold The Journal to Morris Newspapers Feb. 1, 2003. The Feb. 4, 2003 Journal included Brockman’s last front-page column, The Gospel According to Eddie Tor.
There have been three columns in all the years that I have been writing The Gospel that have been terribly difficult to write.
The first, more than 20 years ago, dealt with the death of my mother. The second was just 2½ years ago just after the death of my father. This is the third difficult column — my last.
Even though I know selling the Journal is the right thing for me to do, it has still been very difficult, and I want you to know that I have spent most of the last six months agonizing over it.
When Vince Lombardi (one of my many heroes in life) left the Green Bay Packers for the Washington Redskins in 1969, he told a stunned public in Wisconsin that satisfaction in life was not in maintaining a goal, but in attaining it. Lombardi had won championship after championship in Green Bay. He had done all that he could do there. It was time, once again, for him to labor in search of attaining a new goal.
Likewise, I feel I have done what I can do at the Platteville Journal. That does not mean that it is perfect by any means. But to go to the next level, to move into new, advanced, more modern technology would require the investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars (money that I do not have, and do not want to risk). It would also require the investment of additional time, and that is something I selfishly don’t want to surrender.
All my life I have known nothing but working at the Journal. I started stuffing papers at the age of about five. My dad taught me to handset type while I was still in elementary school. I started covering city council meetings and taking pictures in high school. I have been taking photos of, and writing about, Platteville and the area for about 45 years.
The newspaper business is a time-demanding business. When news happens — you’re there. And, in a small town when you are a major part of the reporting staff (at times all of it) that means a commitment of a great deal of time — every day, and almost every night.
Until I was married a year and a half ago, the longest vacation I had between 1967 and 2001 was three days (and two of those days were Saturday and Sunday). I am not asking for your sympathy. I chose to do it. If I didn’t like it, I should have done something else. But, that’s the only way I knew how to run the Journal. When people would comment about the long hours I would brush the comment aside saying that if I didn’t like the hours, it was up to me to do something about it.
My life, and my priorities, have changed in the last couple of years. I can’t make the commitment to time that I used to. My “to do” list is getting longer, and each day the time I have left on this earth to accomplish at least some of those things is reduced by 24 hours. I have told Kathy many times that I don’t want to get to the end of my life and have to say, “I wish I would have …”
Now is the time for a change. The 31 years that I have owned the Journal is the second longest tenure of any of its owners. Only my mom and dad owned it longer — 39 years. One of my dad’s last bits of advice before he died was to put the Journal behind me, because he felt that the business had started to run my life, instead of me running the business.
Selling the Journal will not put me out of the “ink” business. I will continue to own Mastercraft Press — the commercial printing part of our operation. We will continue to serve your printing needs at this location as in the past by the old fashioned method of earning your respect. In addition, I have a long list of things I would like to do. We’ll all just have to see in what directions God leads me.
I have told you many times that I have lived a truly charmed and blessed life. I grew up in a great family, and I have had the greatest job in the world — in the greatest city. At a time in my life when I needed a friend, God led me to Kathy. She has become my best friend, as well as my life. When God closes doors, He truly opens windows.
I have been surrounded by some of the finest coworkers anywhere. I am sincerely thankful to them for making me look good the last 31 years. I am also thankful to you, the people of the Platteville area, for giving me the chance to report on your lives. You are the greatest!
The new owners have the resources to move the Journal forward. They will do a good job. I wouldn’t leave the Journal in their hands if I did not think that was the case.
Over the years there have been many good times … and, yes, a few bad. During the bad times I always tried to remember the cowboy poet Baxter Black who penned “get back on the horse and finish the ride.” And that’s what I did.
Now, the “Journal” ride is over. This time the horse didn’t throw me. This time I am getting off the right way. With deepest gratitude to all of you I can sincerely say that the past 31 years have been the best “ride” anyone could ask for in life.