Losing a pillar at the Free Press

This entire column will be about my former partner and good friend Don Ratzlaff. As of last week’s issue, he has moved on to other pastures.

I am sure that Tabor College will be very happy with what Don brings to the table in their communications office.

Just between you and me, 20 years is a very long time to do the same job in these times. I understand completely why Don is wanting a change. Can you imagine being on call for 240 months straight, 365 days a year and working every single holiday during that time?

You could ask that question in a room full of people and see how many would raise their hand. I would venture that there would be very few.

Don and I had a great partnership that ended when I sold my share of the business in 2014. We always discussed things before we did anything, which was a great way to do business.

That he was open to me selling my share was a testament that he had trust in me and I in him.

I think the reason that it worked so well for so long was that he did his job and I did mine. He was in charge of what news and articles went into the newspaper, and I did the rest. We hardly ever crossed paths, which is another reason that it worked. I am sure if you asked him about me, you might hear a few things he didn’t like, and if the same were asked of me, I may have a few—very few.

Don is a man of integ­rity and of many talents. He took whatever the ad side gave him for space and made it work out every single week.

I can’t remember hearing Don complain about anything of significance. He always dug in and went all in to make things work.

I don’t remember him ever taking a sick day during production time, which I myself cannot say. He worked right through the illnesses week in and week out whenever a bug would strike.

In the early years, we both worked through the night to put the paper to bed. I remember the time he taught a class at Tabor College on Tuesday mornings that met at 7:30 a.m. How he did that, I do not know, because my coherence didn’t begin until sometime on Thursday during the week.

I know we have always appreciated his wit in the office. And his clever headlines flowed out of his head like magic.

I am thankful that I had him as my editor to fix this column for all of these years. He is a master at editing any story or something that came in from the outside—we call them press releases.

Don’s editorial last week is one of the finest examples of his writing style and skill.

In 2004, our Internet was not working one production night so Don volunteered to drive us down to Valley Center to deliver the files—I was having surgery the next morning, so I guess he just wanted to help me out.

Don is just that kind of a guy, and I will miss him on a daily basis.