You say it's been an honor but the honor is all ours

To the editor:

You say “It’s been an honor.” But the honor is all ours.

The life of everyone who lived in our county is immeasurably richer for the legacy of the Rumbachs and The Herald. The Herald is the spiritual glue of our community, which is our county. Our community without the Rumbachs’ family ownership of The Herald will never be the same. The Rumbachs and The Herald are like are like Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. They, like Atticus, were of the community they served and they loved enough to deliver the truth with respect out of that love.

I met Jack and Ed Rumbach the summer after graduating from JHS. I applied for a job, wanting to cover the news. At first, Ed supervised my visits to every store in Jasper selling ads for the Jasper Anniversary that summer. Then Jack gave me some feature stories to write, and I did that for four summers until I went to the Army the summer of 1970.

Because of the latitude and encouragement of the Rumbachs, I learned everything I had sidestepped in high school. How to write. How to type. How to ask questions. How to listen. How to interact with people in all moods. How to cover the news. How to focus on the subject.

But I also learned something else from Jack Rumbach my last two summers.

Jack taught me you could be dedicated to the truth, even if unpleasant, and still share it with and help the community that was angered by the messenger. The model he gave me from time to time — when my hair was on fire about some perceived injustice or horror — was The Louisville Courier-Journal. A family owned paper too, Jack admired its role in educating and informing its community about integration through very bad times in the 1960’s.

Only once did he change a headline I wrote because it was so inflammatory. I thought he was going to fire me. Instead he explained to me that the headline would have become the story and the community would not learn the facts and information in the story. Thinking I’d invented fire, I pouted most of the summer, worked away on other stories, and left for another year at Notre Dame. The next summer when I came back to work, I told him that he was right. He chuckled and said he knew that.

This is my way of saying “Thanks, Rumbachs.” It could not have been a better run for those hundred odd years. No small town and county paper or family could have done it better. Wednesday’s news was the saddest news I ever read in The Herald. You didn’t lose the The Herald. We all lost The Herald.

—Mike Kendall

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