We’ve known for some while here at the Landmark that Bob Uphues, our editor for the past 20 years, was planning to retire from community journalism this summer. But Bob didn’t much want to talk about it. His view was that he was reporting news and did not want to be the news.
It wasn’t a full-on secret. That’s how it came to be that the village boards in both Brookfield and Riverside honored him at council meetings. They knew this was a moment in the lives of these villages.
Last week in this space, Bob finally reflected on his well-earned freedom from the decided grind of publishing a weekly newspaper with multiple digital efforts each week. Rightly and typically, Bob acknowledged that his work was fueled by the way the people of North Riverside, Riverside and Brookfield embraced this newspaper.
There was a time, several years back, when Bob took a vacation. And we took the opportunity to write an editorial about the exceptional editor he was, about his feel for these villages, his connections, the tough-minded fairness in his reporting.
Bob, of course, hated it. But we heard from his mom, the great Virginia Uphues, who in a scene straight out of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” wrote and said, “It’s about time someone said it.”
This week, with Bob having departed, it is our opportunity to say it again.
Bob Uphues has been the essential neighborhood newspaper editor that every town deserves and which precious few have ever had. And, still fewer will have in the future as our business keeps changing.
In a long tribute written today by his Landmark colleague Bob Skolnik, we report on the respect local officials have had for Bob and his reporting, his constant presence at public meetings, the continuity and historical perspective he brought to the Landmark. And in a letter published today, Tom Weitzel, the retired Riverside police chief, writes about how Bob’s perpetual efforts to report out news from the local police departments came to shape Weitzel’s views on the importance of transparency in responding to the local editor and, through him, to the community.
In our small newsroom we will be feeling Bob’s departure. His willingness to mentor young reporters — yes there was some cussing involved — shaped our work, improved our reporting and made this a better place to work.
What’s next? Well Bob will find something interesting to do. It won’t, we suspect, involve constant deadlines or night meetings.
We will feel Bob’s loss and, yes, so will readers. You don’t lose 20 years of Bob Uphues and not feel an impact. Bob Skolnik will continue to cover education. Francia Garcia Hernandez, a Growing Community Media reporter, will become a frequent byline. And, Erika Hobbs, the new editor of our four flags, will work to shape our coverage.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out with story ideas, complaints or compliments.
And, finally, thanks Bob.