Commentary by Bill Buchanan
This is my last column for the Ojai Valley News as publisher. Writing a final column is similar to standing in line at a wake. It is a very emotional time. You want to express exactly the right thought, yet almost anything you say seems forced and trite. The one notable exception to this is something I witnessed at a wake many years ago. An elderly gentlemen in the receiving line ahead of me uttered the most extraordinary thing I have ever heard at any group gathered to honor the dead. This wake was particularly tragic and poignant. A young man died while piloting a small plane. He left behind a young wife, and a 9-month-old daughter. At the wake, the young widow stood in the receiving line holding her baby in her arms as mourners shuffled by offering their sympathy. The young woman was, understandably, in shock. She stared straight ahead; oblivious to the comments of all those passing by. That turned out to be a blessing. As the line ahead of me moved closer to the family, the old gentleman shuffled up in his somber black suit, patted the young widow on the shoulder and announced in the voice of one who is hard of hearing, “We just want to offer our congratulations!” It was an unconscious slip of the tongue. Of course he meant to say “condolences.” I stood there, slack-jawed, and struggled to regain my composure. I guess there are worse things than being trite. Hopefully my comments will fall somewhere in between. I thank all of our readers and advertisers. The newspaper and Visitors Guide would not exist without your support. I do not know of any other smalltown newspaper in which readers take such an active role in voicing their views. Your letters to the editor, blog posts, guest editorials and “thumbs up, down” comments are always welcome. Please don’t ever stop letting us know what you think. I appreciate the hard work and dedication of our staff. They work diligently to put out the best newspaper and quarterly Visitors Guide magazine that the community can support. I am proud of them and what they do. I want to say a special thank-you to my wife, Ava, who has, for the last two years, edited each and every one of my weekly columns, waited for me, and kept the home fires burning. Finally, I offer a heartfelt thanks to all those in the community who have welcomed me with genuine warmth. If I listed everyone by name, this column would run far beyond the space allotted for it. But those special people with whom I have shared laughter and good times know who they are. I will miss you a great deal, and will see you again when I return from time to time. When Ava and I first came to look at the community almost 12 years ago, I declared that this is the nicest small town I have ever visited. Living here for the last two years has only confirmed that. I have selected Tim Dewar as the publisher who will lead our growth. Because Tim has strong ties with Ojai and with the Ojai Valley News, I have every confidence that he will lead our publications in a positive direction. I ask that you support him as strongly as you have supported us in the past.