Ex-Empire publisher returns to fill in interim

Posted: Thursday, October 01, 2009

Jeff Wilson has been named interim publisher of the Juneau Empire. Wilson came out of retirement in Augusta, Ga., to replace former interim publisher Ronnie Hughes. He will serve four weeks as interim until the permanent replacement arrives in Juneau.

Wilson, 62, is not new to Juneau. He served as the Empire's publisher for two decades before leaving to become publisher of the Athens Banner-Herald in Athens, Ga., where after 15 years he ended his 42-year newspaper career.

"I left here 15 years ago, so it was a great opportunity to come back to this place, which I think has a lot of sentimental value to me, and to see some people and to see what (the Empire) has become," Wilson said. "It was just a great opportunity to come back up here and visit a place I loved for 20 years."

Wilson said old acquaintances have been "coming out of the woodwork" and he is looking forward to seeing old friends.

Born in Alabama and raised in Augusta, Ga., Wilson said he moved around quite a bit as a child, so Juneau felt like home because he lived in the city for longer than he had lived in one place before. Straight out of high school, Wilson began working as an advertising representative at the Augusta Chronicle. By age 26 - and after a three-month stint as advertising director - he was the publisher of the Juneau Empire.

While he enjoys being here again, Wilson said retirement has been great.

"I sleep better, I'm not as grumpy and I find I don't drive as fast. My wife appreciates that," he said. "I'm not as hectic as I once was, and I'm not in a hurry to get anywhere.

"I was in a hurry to get back here, though. It's kind of fun to get back in the saddle."

Wilson has two daughters, both Juneau-Douglas High School graduates. He enjoys spending time with his family, especially his three grandchildren, playing golf and relaxing, as well as the warm climate of the South.

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