If it weren’t for Dick Williams, I wouldn’t be a columnist and author today. It was the summer of 2011 when I read Managing Editor Cathy Cobb’s farewell to Dunwoody as she was moving out of state. Her reminder in that piece that Dunwoody businesses and the Crier needed the community’s support inspired me to write what I saw as a one-time series of articles to submit to the paper.
I’d never before written an article, only presentations and the occasional leadership blog in corporate America, but I thought the Crier needed a cheerleader. I wanted readers to know that I saw the paper as a critical community asset.
In my articles, I told the story of moving to Dunwoody in 1999 and knowing nothing about the area. It was the Crier that came to my rescue. It was the Crier that introduced me to local businesses and events. It was the Crier where I found handymen and lawn services. I had four articles’ worth of material on what the Crier had done for me, and I sent it all off to Dick, owner and editor of this invaluable resource.
Those of you who know Dick will chuckle and nod your heads when you hear that I contacted him repeatedly via email, snail mail and phone and then gave up. Months later, he contacted me and said, “Can you come see me?” In that meeting, he told me his wife Becky had been telling him he needed someone like me, and he’d finally gotten around to considering the idea.
I was blown away when he offered me a job as a columnist. I couldn’t believe that Dick Williams, a former editor at the AJC, a former writer for the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and the author of the book, “Newt! Leader of the Second American Revolution,” not only liked my writing enough to run a few short articles but also enough to offer me a job. He offered a weekly column; we settled on monthly, and it soon expanded to more.
As I’m fond of telling him, he created a monster. With a 600 word limit, I learned to write crisp prose, to cut out as many adverbs as possible and to eliminate trite expressions. The occasional praise via email or text made my day. I enjoyed writing so much I started a weekly blog.
When I retired from my fulltime job, I started writing weekly for the Crier. With the confidence Dick instilled in me, I approached other small town papers and landed a columnist job at the Highlands Newspaper, and another for an online publication. I went on to publish a collection of my favorite columns and a book co-authored by my dog. One of my proudest moments was having Dick introduce me at my book launch for “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch.”
I will miss writing for this talented man. I will miss reading his front page articles. I will miss bumping into him at community events, with his camera hanging around his neck, always ready to snap photos for the paper. I will miss the Crier in my driveway every week. Thank you, Dick, for all you’ve done for me and for Dunwoody.
It’s the end of an era.
Kathy is a Sandy Springs resident. You can read her blogs at https://theinkpenn.blogspot.com/ and find her books, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch” and “The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday,” on Amazon. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org