Thursday, March 09, 2017

Oh, Deere, the birth of a fabulous newspaper career

Ken Krause, who went from BJ sports editor to community activist living on Mystic Street in Medford, Massachussetts, tells a great story about how a baby-faced Springfied High student in a John Deere cap became a newspaper legend.

Doug Oplinger
without John Deere cap
Let Ken tell it:
“Doug Oplinger hit the ground running as a Beacon Journal stringer in March 1971, writing several articles about the ousted superintendent of the Springfield Public Schools.

“His first byline appeared on Page A1 on March 9, 1971, above a story co-written with Bill Hershey, who had recruited the then-Springfield High senior at a school board meeting.

“Hershey provided this vignette to Harry Liggett for the ABJ Alums Blog in 2007, after Doug was named managing editor: ‘I was covering a Springfield school board meeting in the fall of 1970 and noticed an earnest young man in the crowd. We introduced ourselves and he said he was a student – Doug Oplinger.

“I think he was monitoring the meeting for some student group. I told him to call me if he was ever at a school board meeting when news broke out and I wasn’t there.

“I don’t remember how many months later it was but during a snowstorm that shut down everything in Akron – at least we thought it did – I got a phone call at my apartment one night. It was Oplinger, reporting that the school board had fired the superintendent during a meeting held during the blizzard. Op, as I recall, got a front page byline the next day and the rest is history.”

Doug began working under the frenetic genius of the State Desk, Pat Englehart, and the curmudgeon with a hidden heart and passion for journalism Harry Liggett.

Tomorrow – Friday, March 10 – Doug will retire from Ol’ Blue Walls with the title of managing editor.
Pat, Harry and “Go to hell” Fran are beaming down on Doug. So am I, but I’m not in the Great Beyond … yet.
Well done, Doug. A tip of the John Deere cap to you.

Lynne Sherwin added:

We will gather at the Barley House Friday after 5 p.m. for a proper Beacon Journal sendoff for Doug. Company farewell is at 4 p.m. in the northeast corner.”

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