Bidding Don Patterson adieu

TV promotes itself and its people so much better than newspapers. You can watch WFMY anchor Frank Mickens sing the National Anthem. You can help celebrate WGHP reporter Chad Tucker’s marriage. News? Not on your life, but TV is about personality as much as it is about news, and they know how to sell personality.

So, I’ll take a moment to recognize Donald W. Patterson, who has been a reporter for the News & Record since, like, the Civil War. Don announced his iimpending retirement yesterday. I’m guessing 7,000 is a conservative estimate of the number of times his byline has appeared in the paper, usually on the front page, including this morning.

As soon as I heard the news yesterday, I posted it on Facebook. So far, it has been “liked” by 37 people, near and far. (Sorry, Jeff, if I was the one who spoiled your announcement later, but you should know that newspaper news travels fast in Greensboro.)

Don is a good man. Oh, we would fight over the length of his stories and how long it took him to write them. I once banned him from writing history pieces and stories about gas prices, which lasted about two months. He would lecture me on journalism and I’d lecture him back. For the 27 years I was at the paper, he had one cardinal request: Let reporters work on the very best stories and put them in the paper. It was something I tried to do, although I never acknowledged to Don.

In my mind, he rivals Jim Schlosser among the longtime N&R reporters who had a true impact on the paper and the community. He has a style and personality that is recognizable in the paper and in the newsroom. When he leaves on July 3, he’ll be happy and the readers will miss him.

My guess is that Jeri Rowe will write a column about him. Maybe Jeff will, too. His departure is one in which the readers should be allowed to celebrate and say goodbye.