Farewell to Juneau

Posted: Friday, February 25, 2000

If you live in Juneau long enough, you know that people come and go from this place - a lot. All of Alaska is like this: Quite a few of us stay for 10 years or so, leave for a few years, and eventually get that irrepressible urge to come back, especially to this beautiful little city by the sea. The migration idea becomes especially strong every Fourth of July. I have followed the coming-and-going pattern for the past 30 years that I've called Juneau my hometown.

This is one of those ``going'' times. Today, my last day as editor of the Juneau Empire, marks the end of my most recent tour of duty in Alaska's capital city, a place that is dear to my heart and always difficult to leave. From the time I first arrived in Juneau as a high school sophomore, I've always thought of this town as the most exquisite place on earth, unequaled in physical grandeur and peopled by the sweetest and most sincere folks on the planet. Leaving, hard as it is, will bring me to a new beginning - a move to the state of Georgia, where I'll be taking a position with the Augusta Chronicle, Morris Communications' flagship newspaper. As editorial page editor for the Chronicle, I'll return to my roots as a writer.

As I embark on this new challenge in the South, I'm aware that being editor of my hometown paper has been the most rewarding experience of my professional career, and an opportunity few are fortunate enough to have. I especially appreciate that Empire Publisher John Winters gave me that chance of a lifetime a few years ago, that he has helped me grow professionally and personally and that he allowed me to make and learn from my mistakes.

It's with tremendous admiration for the staff at the Juneau Empire that I say thank you and farewell. Each person who works at the Empire - and the newspaper is run by people just like those in your own family - seems to give 110 percent to the effort every day. There are no slackers, but people who genuinely enjoy the challenges of working at a newspaper and who are willing to do what it takes to get the paper published each day.

Although everyone at the Empire has a special place in my heart, I'll particularly miss the reporters and editors here, whom I work with most closely. I've been privileged to work with these caring and creative people, who are tireless in their efforts to improve the Empire. I think they've done a great job, and they should know I'll always be their biggest fans. My parting advice to them comes from that master of optimism, Dale Carnegie: ``Do the very best you can; and then put up your old umbrella and keep the rain of criticism from running down the back of your neck.''

And best of luck to all in Juneau. It's not goodbye, but ``see you again,'' as Juneau residents come to know that no matter where they go on earth, they'll always find a smiling Juneauite along their way. Our paths will cross again.

Suzanne Downing

Managing Editor

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