Today I had to finally make a tough decision. As those of you who know me, I've had a lot of tough decisions to make this past year. In fact, in some respects they are all connected.
My good friend of more than 40 years -- David M. Stamps -- will be inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in April. He and I grew up together in the world of journalism.
Back in 1969 he and I worked at this twice weekly newspaper chain in Elmhurst, Illinois. Both fresh of out the military, we didn't know what we didn't know. Life can be cruel in its lessons, but it wasn't long before we learned. It was either that, or not survive.
Both of us spent a fairly short time with that newspaper chain. He left to become a bureau chief of a daily newspaper. That was huge for us in the minor leagues. It wasn't long before he was promoted. My phone rang. "Don, it's David." I waited. "This is the greatest place in the world to work and I want you to come here with me."
I did. It was 1970. Between 1970 and the time I left journalism, which was last Fall, he and I were connected professionally and personally, as close as two friends could be. As we both moved around in the newspaper business, somehow we were always close geographically and personally.
When he and I get together we share stories no one would believe. But they are true. Like the time he got a call from the White House asking him, as president of the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association, to host a press conference for President Gerald Ford. He did. And I was lucky enough to tag along.
Or the Red Grange stories -- the Galloping Ghost as oldtimers will remember. Dave has memories of sharing a bottle of whiskey with good, old Red. In fact, the bottle itself was a commemorative special edition in honor of him. Grange could give a crap. As Dave tells it, when the bottle was empty Grange tossed it like nothing into the trash can.
There are other stories aplenty that we can share during our years growing up in journalism. And we really did grow up, thankfully. And his wonderful wife, Sandy, was so kind and tolerant of our antics -- although she stills winches when David's 30th birthday party come up for discussion. Hmmmm.
Anyway, I digress.
David followed me to Indiana not long after I arrived. Although he went further South -- to Indianapolis -- where he spent the next 14 years as the Executive Director of the Hoosier State Press Association.
We worked together on a number of major projects in Indiana, some of which changed state law.
I was the Editor in Waukegan, Illinois. He was the Publisher in Aurora, Illinois. I came to Indiana from Illinois in late 1995.
When I received a call from Julie Inskeep last Fall, Publisher of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette asking me to write a nomination letter to include David into the Indiana Hall of Fame, I was truly honored and jumped on the opportunity.
I wrote from my heart, as friends do. In my world friendship ALWAYS trumps business, or it isn't friendship.
He ended up having nearly 20 letters of nomination from associates and colleagues in the business.
And to my point. Having been voted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame, I was honored and humbled to receive a call from David asking me to give his introduction at the induction ceremonies. That was late last year. It's weighed on me ever since.
Today I decided I would not do it. Not because of anything to do with David. Our friendship is solid as a rock. But rather other factors that would put us -- more me than him -- into an awkward position. Like Grange, he could give a crap. Friendship trumps business.
It was gut-wrenching to say no. I'm still not sure it was the correct decision, but what I do know is his induction will be spared any possible awkwardness, and that's the most important. Like he said today when I told him, "Hell what's five minutes, we've had 40 years." And we're still going. He understood.
Yes David, I will be there in spirit. I am proud to be your friend. Congratulations friend.