Few I know are ready for what the day has in store for them. I know I don’t. The more you think you’ve got it all planned out, a fly consistently plops into the proverbial ointment.
Usually, I do a quick check of my email, then adjust the thermostat accordingly because, you know, just recently the weather has moved from an Arctic chill to the Sahara Desert.
I know after I’ve nestled in my chair, somewhere around sip three of my first cup of coffee, I can hear the back door open, followed shortly by “Kyyyyyllle.”
It took Dennis Shelley about 4 seconds to finish saying my 4-letter name.
Dennis, who has walked in these doors each weekday since 1999 after being hired by the Smiths, will walk out for the final time this week. He is headed off into one of the most well deserved retirements I’ve known.
Dennis would wait for my response, and if I was here he came back with his morning Dr. Pepper, sat down, and we proceeded to discuss who knew and didn’t know what they were talking about from the previous evening’s political madness aired on TV.
As soon as our six or seven minutes were up, we hit the day doing our different areas of newspaper work. Many times we met again at the end of the day discussing what we had heard during the day. No matter how crazy the day had been, I could always count on Dennis making me laugh with his good natured attitude. Don’t get me wrong, he was firm in his beliefs, but he could shake off matters that the average person would take home with them easier than almost any I’ve worked with over the last 40 years.
I’ve seen and heard enough from all areas of newspapers, large and small, that you could do a tell-all documentary about. There have been some legendary personalities over the time, but I can’t remember anyone I’ll miss any more than Dennis. He was and still will be important to our office ... and certainly to me. We will miss him greatly and although the office is currently closed to the public thanks to this stubborn COVID-19 mess, he is welcome anytime. I’ll gladly sit six feet apart from him just so I can meet the day head on.
Media has been deemed as essential and we will continue to operate, but I think I speak for everyone at the Tribune who believes Dennis’ smile was as essential to us each day as any hand sanitizer. It would ward off bad thoughts quicker than he could say my name.
He told me recently during an interview for his retirement story that he wanted to wake up each morning with absolutely nothing he “had” to do.
We don’t ever want you to feel like you have to come see us, but we sure hope you will. Good luck, Dennis. Enjoy your retirement.