I’ve been intrigued recently with the wonderful cast of The Villager newspaper columnists.  Of course loyal subscribers to this newspaper remember the dean of columnists, Mort Marks.  I first met Mort at an Arapahoe Republican Men’s breakfast. I was new in Denver, moving here from Craig.  Mort was his usual self and was agitating the small group of men with his vast experience in war and peace.  Readers will recall that Mort was awarded a Silver Star medal for his military service in the Battle of The Bulge.  He always remembered and wrote about honoring our service members and special observances honoring veterans and military holidays.  We lost Mort several years ago; he never missed a weekly deadline and in over 30 years we never had to censor a column that brought high praise, or sometimes criticism from some circles.

If you have been reading this newspaper for 43 years, we do have some loyal subscribers who have been with us that long.   Many of you have enjoyed the journalism journey for years.  You know by now that I grew up on a ranch near Craig that I can’t stop writing about.  I’ve learned the hard way that it is safer to write about history, rather than humor, or politics.

I would love to hear from some of you early-day readers.  Loyalty counts, and I hear from some readers who still subscribe to the newspaper from assisted living facilities.  We have seen many publications come, and mainly go, during these past four decades.  The loss of The Rocky Mountain News is one of the saddest chapters of Colorado history.  Dean Singleton, the greatest newspaper publisher in Colorado history, won the newspaper war and The Denver Post survived a long running battle.  Scripts/Howard leadership explained to me that Singleton, living in Denver, and officing at The Post,  could make instant decisions, while Rocky Mountain leadership had to contact headquarters in Cincinnati to purchase paper clips.  “We just got out maneuvered,” a departing publisher told me on leaving.  Singleton was very gracious; he didn’t want to be blamed for the demise of  The Rocky Mountain News.  I would like to be publisher of The Denver Post for a few months and bring on some new local columnists.  The best Post writers today are on the sports pages.  Denny Dressman, one of the best sports writers of all time, has his sport pages in The Villager. He is especially fond of baseball and spent decades in the newspaper wars. 

Present readers realize the quality of our columnists and I must applaud Joneen MacKenzie who writes about life’s personal relationships and challenges.  She recently sold her firm to her daughter.  While traveling with her successful book author husband, she still turns in her perfectly written column, always on deadline, from sometimes far-away destinations, or cruise ships. We cherish her work and friendship.

I applaud Cherry Creek schools, all-time best English teacher, Michael Mazenko, who tells me that he is going to retire after this year.  His writing is brilliant, it is like beautiful sounding music as it flows across his column page.  Freda Miklin once told me that her sons related that Mazenko was the best teacher they ever had.  We need to talk… I want him to keep writing his column no matter where, or what, he is doing.  Just so you readers know, professional writing is an addiction.  If you have the will, ability, and desire, it just flows out of the brain.  Writing can be a gift, like singing, painting, athletic abilities, photography, (John Fielder) et al.  At an early age, if you discover some talent, follow your dream, and develop whatever gift God and your parents have bestowed upon you. If you don’t feel gifted,  develop something that you really like to do.  With effort, determination, patience, and good luck, you can succeed.  Never give up… try… and try again.  Remember the slogan, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” My mother told me to never give up!

Jay Davidson, banker extraordinaire, and financial scholar, has been a contributing columnist, of late, advising our readers on financial matters from someone in the business at his locally owned First American State Bank in Greenwood Village. He tells it the way he experiences it, operating his own bank for decades. 

I’ve named a few of our great columnists. We have a wonderful staff of reporters spearheaded by Freda Miklin, a genius, a doting mother, expert cook, and CPA by trade.  By an act of God, or “Divine Providence,”  Freda arrived at The Villager.  She diligently covers political and government intrigue of both political parties and city councils across the county.  She certainly has the gift of writing.

I must brag about Scottie Iverson. This beauty queen and society guru is everywhere, always with camera and dressed like a fashion model.  We are so proud of her and the wonderful job she performs as the only full-time society reporter left on the metro social scene.

Those beautiful society pages, full of photos and excellent graphic designs, are the work of our long-time designer and production manager, Tom McTighe.  A beloved Celtic Scotchman, he has been putting up with the Irish Sweeney clan for several decades. His newspaper layouts and designs result in many of the newspaper’s many awards.

The bottom-line, our writers reside in our local cities. Most have lived here for years and know the people, and territory. With daughter Susan’s arrival back at The Villager; a Cherry Creek high school alumnus  and CSU journalism major, she is assuming many of her parent’s duties, doing a suburb job.  Susan honed her marketing skills working for a New York advertising firm in Dallas, Texas.  She is a marketing creative genius and loves  the newspaper business to her parent’s delight.  The Villager will live on if you all keep supporting the newspaper and recognizing that good print is still alive and necessary.  Excellent reporting and skillful writing are needed now, more than ever.  We’re one of the last family independent newspapers left in the metro area, along with Hillel Goldberg’s  family-owned Jewish News, with his daughter at the helm.  Thank you… God… for daughters that are a gift from heaven.  My wife Gerri is the inspiration and leader of the entire operation.  When the going gets tough Gerri is always there to do the heavy lifting.  What a  great life partner.  She was a business major at CSU when I spotted this gorgeous girl.  Newspapers have been her life’s career.  She remains at the helm of the publication.

Saundra, Sharon, Susan, and Patrick Sweeney, all had youthful paper routes and have grown up in the newspaper business, making major  contributions to The Villager success story.  Part of our legacy newspaper has been legendary society editor Glory Weisberg, who with her beloved husband Dave,  covered the non-profit  social scene for over 30 years. Thank you, Glory!

Shirley Klutz has been a volunteer at The Villager for over 30 years, now 96, and still coming to work.  We love you, Shirley!

And newspaper veteran, author, editor, former owner of the Hugo Plainsman newspaper for 18 years is Becky Osterwald, our go-to gal for help in many areas of our newspaper world.

Attorney Don Peterson is the Consul General for Colorado diplomats and shares his wisdom on important legal matters with readers in his weekly  “About the Law” column.  Don comes from a historic Swedish newspaper family that published an early-day Denver newspaper.  He relates that the newspaper presses are buried under the Convention Center. 

Dr. Brian Joondeph is traveling the world with his son, and he shares  their exotic  trips with readers, along with a sprinkle of politics.  His politic writings appear often in The American Thinker

We still like to put ink on newsprint, along with a large readership on the Internet  We love to hear from our readers.  We are tremendously thankful for our advertisers that see the value of reaching our growing local audience in print and online with many links and thousands of weekly page hits.  We are a free-enterprise newspaper that depends upon subscriptions and advertising for our 43 years of publishing this newspaper.  We love what we do and enjoy our business relationships.

The dream lives on with this wonderful team.