- Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 13:06
- Published on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 13:05
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There are some people that, based on the impact they’ve had on your life and their own force of personality, you think will live forever. And, then, in a moment, when it seems least expected, they’re gone. In a flash, a central pivot to an entire era has gone away and you’re stunned by the sudden cleavage of time. That was how I felt when I heard that Ruth Herrink, the publisher of this newspaper, and my friend for many years, had passed away.
I am not someone who is qualified to write Ruth’s farewell. I am only familiar with a tiny fraction of what went into the making of what I know was a remarkable life. But, I can recall with considerable fondness my experiences working with Ruth. It was twenty years ago, almost to the day, when Mrs. Herrink’s daughter Jessica and I were guests on WGRQ. Our job was to offer commentary on that night’s election results. That was when George Allen was running against Mary Sue Terry. The program went well and Jessica suggested, with her mother’s concurrence, that perhaps I should try writing a weekly column on politics.
Since then, with considerable tutelage and encouragement, from both Ruth and Jessica, as well as considerable patience, I have been writing Virginia Viewpoints for the Journal. Its been a wonderful experience. In all, and this is based on a back of the envelope calculation, I have written some 950 columns. Throughout this period, Ruth’s kindness towards me never flagged. She encouraged me, edited my submissions, offered her take on my point of view and regularly made recommendations about future columns.
One of my fondest memories was from the 2007 State Senate Election. (That was a big one.) John Chichester was retiring and Richard Stuart and Al Pollard were fighting for the seat. It was a great campaign between two excellent candidates. Ruth, as Publisher of the Journal, in what was a substantial undertaking, organized a series of candidate’s nights throughout the district. There was one in Stafford, King George and Westmoreland Counties and she asked me to moderate all three. It was exciting, but I had just had a fairly serious surgery and I wasn’t in the best of shape. I told Ruth that I wasn’t sure I was up to it. But, thank goodness, she knew better and told me that it would be good for me. She must have known what she was talking about because I credit those three events as being the transition between my being sick and my feeling normal again. We had a wonderful time and the candidate’s nights contributed to the quality of a remarkable election. This experience remains one of my most treasured memories.
When I started writing for the Journal I never thought of myself as a writer. But, over time, thanks to encouragement from Ruth and Jessica I started writing for some other papers. Far from being annoyed, when I got an item published in the San Francisco Examiner and later a paper in England, Ruth republished them in the Journal. I couldn’t have been more proud.
There is so much that I appreciated about Ruth’s personality. But what I think I will remember most is her enthusiasm. Her interest and passion for business, her inherent sense of enterprise, and her kindness towards others, not to mention an infectious sense of humor, are traits I am not likely to ever forget. Ruth always seemed to have a new idea.
Of course, the reality remains, that each new day, from now on, is a day when I won’t get a suggestion from Ruth, or a link to a column or article that I should look into. That wonderful interaction is now the stuff of memories. However, Ruth would probably be the first one to remind me that this is the way life works. With that in mind, there is a quote, that given Ruth’s energetic, but nonetheless common sense approach to life, that I think she would have appreciated. Its from one of my favorite authors Mark Twain. He was searching for a farewell for a good friend of his and I will just alter it a bit, to say, “Ruth was a good friend of mine and she will be missed.”