Friday, March 10, 2017

Tributes to a Deere colleague

Tributes and stories about BJ managing editor Doug Oplinger, who retired today:

“Met Doug Oplinger, ABJ managing editor who retires today, in spring 1972. I was finishing at Kent State and interviewing for part-time ABJ job.
“I was warned by the late Terry Oblander that Doug who was already a part-timer was likely to be testy and surly. He was. He had his white shirt, brief case and pocket protector. He looked 14.
“Oblander said the surliness was because Doug was the only Akron U journalism part-timer hired by the late Pat Englehart at that time on the State Desk. Doug hated it when Kent State journalism students got hired. He took that very personally (at least at first).
“He asked derisively if I even knew where Lakemore was. He was very pleased when I said I had no idea. Despite that introduction, we became friends and co-workers for a long time. Congrats, Dougie.”
"Surly" is not the behavior I ever witnessed from Doug, even when he was Features Editor and I was TV Editor and Travel Editor at Ol' Blue Walls.
“In about 30 days, it will be 30 years since the Pulitzer Prize committee recognized work captained by Doug on coverage of the attempted corporate takeover of Goodyear. The honor was well-deserved. Put your John Deere hat on, Doug. Flaps up.”
“Do I remember Oplinger making a road trip to Colorado for Coors, taking money from all of us to bring back cases in the truck?”
By the way, Paula and I visited Coors in Colorado, and got free samples of seven varities of beer. I was surprised that the state police weren’t waiting on the driveway to the highway to make sobriety checks.
In our case, we use West Virginia University football road games as an excuse to take a 7- to 10-day sightseeing tour in that area. After WVU played Colorado in Boulder we took in several national parks, including Yellowstone, and the free beer samples from Coors.
We also sampled the products at the Guinness plant in Ireland while enjoying a rooftop 360-degree view of Dublin. Not as many samples as from Coors, though.
From Pam McCarthy and Cathy Strong, former State Desk reporters:

Pam, illustrious North Canton Hoover journalism/English teacher: "Wishing you all the best, Doug, in your retirement. Remember when you, Catherine Robinson Strong and I were all newbies. Though I was the newest of the newbies!”

From Massey University professor (in Wellington, New Zealand) Cathy: “Best in your retirement, Doug. I haven't worked with you since 42 years ago but you are in the ‘fond memory’ part of my brain. Have a lovely sendoff.”

From me to Doug, the baby-faced Springfield High student with the John Deere cap who survived the Tasmanian devil, Mogadore’s famous Pat Englehart, while I was assistant State Desk editor:

“Doug, if you want to go to a Mountaineer Field football game, I can arrange it. I have 2 season tickets on the 40. One caveat: You have to join in singing ‘Country Roads’ if WVU wins.”

That got a Facebook “like” from Doug. I’ll take that as a yes from a Buckeyes fan. Have you people check with my people, Doug, and we'll pick a date for this State Desk reunion in Gold and Blue land.

Still later, Doug emailed this to me:


"Thanks for the kind note. We had some great times at the Beacon Journal. The State Desk was a unique place, full of very very odd people who together did incredible work.

"The Beacon Journal marched a long line of wonderful mentors through the newsroom and I learned from every one. So happy I stumbled into William Randolph Hershey.

"Diane and I plan to do some traveling, starting simple for now. I need to get organized for the new venture, then get a passport so we can get serious about seeing the world.

Doug has come a long, long way from Springfield High and his snowstorm scoop for his first BJ byline. Now, Deere boy, get out there and enjoy your retirement as much as I have for 21 years.

Doug’s new work address:

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