Thursday, June 09, 2016

Rudolph Stocker, who began at the New York Times in October 1965, finally retired May 18 at the age of 78, well beyond Social Security eligiblity. He is the last hot type setter at the Times with the lifetime job guarantee.

Rudy Stocker
BJ printers had that same lifetime job guarantee, the brainchild of John S. Knight, that allowed computers into Ol’ Blue Walls and ushered out the smoking hot linotype machines.

I remember the day that, as Newsroom makeup editor, I escorted the last hot-type in BJ history to the engravers alongside Composing foreman Don Baker and printers Carl “Red” Neston and Ed Fobean in 1976.

Red died in 2004, Don and Ed in 2006. Unlike the linotypes, I’m still smoking hot at damn near 84.

Rudy operated a steampunk linotype at the Times. But he was adaptable. With the Times in the computer age he set ads on a Mac, using InDesign and PhotoShop. Old dog learned new tricks, as many did as the BJ.

Rudy was in the secret 9th floor mini-Composing room the Times set up to put together its 1971 Pentagon Papers section, all done in secrecy.

Still, Rudy left the Times without a farewell party or speech. His decision.

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