It is one of life’s realities we learn late: that we tend to be so immersed in the everyday — school, family, career — that we scarce heed the passage of the years. And decades.
Not that long ago, it seems, our then boss, Farm Press owner and publisher Bill McNamee, walked a new editor around the office, making introductions. Tall guy (which Bill, himself a tall guy, favored in his hiring, contending that tall people rule the world). Had been a business writer for a Memphis daily newspaper. Gonna do good things for us, Bill predicted with much gusto. (We took Bill’s predictions with a grain of salt, the landscape being littered with people who’d not met his demanding expectations.)
That was 37 years ago this December. And sure enough, our new employee did good things.
As noted in his farewell column (click here to read), Forrest Laws is retiring. In his years with us, he’s held several positions, worked across all our publications (Delta Farm Press, Southeast Farm Press, Southwest Farm Press, Western Farm Press), made the transition from typewriters and early-day offset printing to computers and everything digital, adapted to the internet and web publishing, became adept at doing videos to accompany his articles.
In whatever he does, he is the consummate professional, who takes pride in doing things well and getting them right.
Over his nearly four decades with Farm Press, Forrest has written who-knows-how-many millions of words. And he’s written those millions of words with just two fingers!! We’ve always marveled that he could crank out so many words with as much speed and accuracy as most 10-finger typists.
A lot of changes have occurred in agriculture during Forrest’s time here — from clunky tractors and Rube Goldberg early-era cotton pickers to today’s behemoth machines that steer themselves and tell you what they’re doing while they do it. A lot of things have happened in Washington, many of them to agriculture’s detriment, as more and more people haven’t a clue where their food and fiber come from.
Forrest has chronicled all these developments, in accurate, superbly crafted articles that have kept our readers informed about issues, legislation, events, and technologies of importance to them. In the process, he’s traveled much of the world, reporting on agricultural issues, and importantly, telling the intimate, human stories of the men and women who farm the land.
Many of our Farm Press crew have been here 25 years, 30 years, 40 years and more. We’ve become family. We’re understandably sad when one of our family takes leave of us. But we wish him many happy years in retirement. And if circumstances allow, perhaps he’ll do some freelance articles for us now and then.
Well done, Forrest. We’ll miss you. Our readers will miss you. It has been our great pleasure working with you … and counting you a friend.