Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

February 24, 2013

HOPKINS: Remembering a mentor and a friend

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — I’ve been a little on the melancholy side for the last few days. Last week I was saddened to learn that a mentor had passed away.

Many people don’t end up in the occupation they thought they would when they set off to college, or even when they graduated from college. I went to college intending to train for a career in sports broadcasting and I even had a little success.

However, the career stalled, so during the late 1990s I took up public relations with a couple of the minor pro sports teams in Buffalo. In Jan. 2001 I was unemployed and answered a classified ad for a reporter at a weekly newspaper.

That paper was the Cheektowaga Times. I was hired in Feb. 2001 and there was plenty to learn. Our general manager and editor at the time, Jim Gruber, was running the paper, founded in 1946 by his grandparents, Willard and Eve Allis. There was a tradition at the paper and as I learned my way in the newspaper business, I embraced the paper and its importance in the community.

While Jim taught me a lot, I also learned plenty from the paper’s editor emeritus, John Salamanchuk. John took over editorial duties in the 1980s when Willard became ill. By 2001 John in his 80s and serving as a consultant, advising Jim and reviewing articles for any potentially libelous content.

When Jim left the paper and I moved up, he suggested that I heed any advice that John offered. I’m glad I did.

Every Wednesday afternoon I would fax our stories of the week to John Salamanchuk, who would review the stories from his home— Cattaraugus in the summer and Arizona in the winter.

Most of what he returned were grammatical corrections. Sometimes, he’d make a comment or two about a particular story, especially the ones dealing with local politics. Every now and then the phone would ring and it would be John on the other end.

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