Looking back on a career in news

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Guess what, I’m back, but not as a reporter. I’m now your recently retired weekly writer of the &uot;Off The Wall&uot; column.

In case you haven’t heard, I accepted an early retirement and my last day of employment as a reporter was June 30. After thinking over the retirement package that was presented to me, it was the best thing to do because of personal reasons. But, thanks to the many readers of the column and the publisher’s desire to not put it to bed at this time, the publisher negotiated with me to keep it going for the present.

I will also include some articles from readers. If you desire to have material published through this column, please drop off written submissions at the News-Herald, 130 S. Saratoga Street and I will pick them up on a weekly basis. Remember to date them because they will be done on a first-come first serve basis.

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My one week of retirement has been busy and steady. Since last Wednesday I have been to Wally World (Wal-Mart) on several occasions mainly because you meet everybody in Suffolk there and I thought that I could catch up on some old acquaintances and friends, especially those who are not working. I know that there are some out there because when we had our last class meeting at Emily Bailey’s house on June 27, I was the only employed classmate among the five of us in the room.

I got teased and joked about the stress of still being employed and how free they felt, but now I can say to them, &uot;Just welcome me to the club.&uot;

In the 34 years that I was employed here full time, I have always kept my hand in God’s hand and sought his guidance. By doing this, He knew what my future held and led me to the right people at the right time to succeed. He also brought into my presence those who could tell me who to talk to before retirement at the Social Security Office, gave me the right sense to hate credit cards

to make me just about debt free at my retirement and to cause unexpected funds to reach my hands when I least expected them which includes my Survivors’ Benefit that just kicked in this year. Now the benefit will be increased and I will be drawing the check until the Lord calls me home. Praise the Lord!

Now as I view my retirement I realize that there are many freedoms associated with it. During last week my son Mark was on vacation and wanted to treat me to a movie; we went to a matinee in Hampton to see Farenheit 9/11. I felt strange but said to myself, &uot;I can really get use to doing this.&uot; Later, I realized that I can visit my father at George Washington Healthcare Center of Chesapeake any time of the day and still eat dinner in the afternoon or evening instead of at 10 or 11 p.m. at night, go dancing on Sunday night and sleep late Monday morning, matter of fact sleep late every morning if I wish. And last but not least, I can sit in church for one hour without looking like I’m praying the entire time I’m sitting there.

I’m going to miss being in the presence of my News-Herald family five days a week, though, but we will get to see each other at least once a week when I prepare this column. I enjoyed the way some of them always observed and commented on my fingernail polish and jewelry that I always kept in sync with whatever outfit that I wore for the day. But as the saying goes, &uot;Some good things must come to an end.&uot;

As I look back, I can honestly say that I accomplished many of my goals. In 1972, I started from the bottom as a typesetter, was promoted to Editorial Assistant, Composing Room Supervisor, newsroom reporter and what I call my biggest accomplishment, a column named in my honor, &uot;Off The Wall.&uot; This title, which some people compare with being crazy, did not mean that when it was named by another editor in 1991. It simply means readers can publish any article and talk to me about anything that comes to their minds off the top of their heads.

Speaking of goals, on Sunday Dr. Charles Stanley, the minister of the &uot;In Touch&uot; religious program on ABC-TV Channel 13 spoke on a very good title, &uot;The Key To Success.&uot; I think every parent should give their children this taped program as a gift and especially to their children in college. You order it by calling 1-800-323-3747.

In this sermon, one of the main things Stanley said was if you are a child of God, He’s for you and will supply you with the tools necessary to accomplish your goals. I’m living proof of that. He also said that there are mainly three kinds of goals – immediate, short range and long range, but you have to decide exactly what you want and write it down. But remember not to write impossible ones like you want to be rich. After that, you must set a deadline when you will accomplish your goal and ask &uot;does it fit the purpose for my life?&uot;

Hallelujah, I just received a revelation from above. Because in spite of the fact that I took an early retirement, to me all of my goals were met.

In addition to my promotions, I carried myself in a way to pave the way for another black woman to follow in my footsteps and to go beyond what I, myself, had accomplished.

As you all know by now, my good friend, Luefras Robinson was promoted to the position of Managing Editor-the first black woman to ever go that far up the ladder at the News-Herald. When I went through the Suffolk News-Herald doors as a full-time employee, I looked back and handed Luefras the baton to keep on running to the finish line. Just know, Luefras, that I will always be running behind you to cheer you on to victory. God will supply you with the tools if you keep your hand in His.

Evelyn Wall is a former News-Herald reporter. Her column appears each Wednesday.