Good stuff from Kermit Hobbs

Published 1:36 pm Saturday, April 20, 2013

I wish I could take the credit for it, but our recent Civil War series was the brainchild of Suffolk historian and author Kermit Hobbs.

A couple of weeks ago, really just a few days before the 150th anniversary of the beginning of what came to be known as the Siege of Suffolk, I saw an email with the subject line “Column idea” in my inbox, sent by Mr. Hobbs. It has been a while since he has sent one of his columns, and I’d been thinking of calling to gently prod him about submitted something new, so this email looked to be well-timed.

When I opened the email and saw what he actually had in mind, I was floored. He was proposing to write a dozen or more articles, supplemented by one or two staff-written pieces. He’d set up the schedule, he’d collect the artwork we would need, and he’d write the 600-word articles to coincide with dates that were especially significant throughout the siege.

Email newsletter signup

Most people imagine they’d love to write a regular column for the newspaper — and then they find that developing interesting ideas each week is a gut-wrenching experience of its own. Putting together 12 to 15 different articles about a single subject during a 24-day period — and keeping them interesting — is a task I’d only expect of someone on my staff, someone paid to do the job full time. Even then, it would be a daunting task.

But Mr. Hobbs volunteered to do the series and has remained excited about it even as the drudgery of such a production schedule must have set in. Even in the face of his own mother’s death on Wednesday, he has faithfully kept to the schedule we adopted when we first discussed the project.

Before I had learned of his mother’s death on Thursday, I saw Mr. Hobbs had sent an email promising an expected installment in the series and suggesting an addition to the plan. It wasn’t until after I had responded, urging him to meet an early deadline for Sunday’s edition, that I saw his mother’s obituary and realized she had passed.

Feeling like an utter heel, I quickly called and left a voicemail and then sent an email in which I promised him we could adjust the schedule to give him some time to tend to his mother’s affairs. But Mr. Hobbs would have no part of changing the plan, and the article that appears in today’s paper — the longest of the series yet, by the way — was in my email inbox before the end of the day.

I tip my hat to Kermit Hobbs, not just for his knowledge of Suffolk history, but for the example of dedication and resolution that he sets. And I love how he brings Suffolk’s history to life.

If you’ve been following the series, keep reading. If you haven’t, I hope you’ll take the chance to catch up online at It’s good stuff.