One day recently, Vernon Bennett showed up at the office and gave me an update on what has been going on in his life.
I remembered Vernon calling our church and recreational league softball games at Lake Reba on those Friday nights we yearned for before real life kicked in and we traded our softball gloves for golf clubs.
Vernon and his wife Pam met on the softball field and tied the knot. Early in my career, I wrote a story on Pam and Vernon and it thrilled me to know they were still together. Both are now retired, but they are very active. Pam retired from Eastern Kentucky University and then spent eight years at Kirksville Elementary. Vernon retired and then went back to work for a local auto dealership.
Instead of calling a softball game, Vernon bowls in four different leagues and goes to the gym every day. Pam does an exercise class two days a week and also bowls in two leagues. Pam still serves as an umpire and has been a KHSAA umpire for more than 30 years.
They also deliver catering orders for McAlister’s in Richmond.
In their retirement, Vernon and Pam haven’t slowed down, but are having just as much fun in their golden years.
“Retirement is not about quitting work and sitting down,” Pam said. “It is about staying active and doing all of the things you didn’t do while you were working.”
Writing stories about people like Vernon and Pam are one of the reasons I enjoy my job. I report the news but also tell stories about people who may be someone you know, someone you go to church with, your co-worker or your next-door neighbor.
In this week’s edition, I wrote about Tom Schultz and his retirement after more than three decades delivering mail under every circumstance imaginable. Tom and I go back a long way, because his wife Lea was my very first news editor when I began my career at the Richmond Register. She always helped me and made those stories, such as the one I wrote about Vernon and Pam, sound so much better than the first draft and re-write that I turned in.
Those were very rough drafts back in the day and I’m sure Lea could have pulled her hair out editing those stories. Honestly, that’s the only way you can learn — from your mistakes and proper guidance.
I’ve been fortunate to work for some very knowledgeable editors and publishers and Lea ranks at the top. She was always patient with me and knows the business well and she still does.
Our conversations always are about journalism and newspapers, both online and print.
I remember helping Tom coach a Little League team and watching his sons Tommy and AJ grow up on the baseball field and on the golf course.
I’m glad Tom has finally settled on retirement and set time aside for him, his wife and family.
Tom’s story of longevity and commitment to customer service is one we can learn from and need to return to in the future.