The end of an era

As longtime reporter Ron Gholson says goodbye to the work-a-day world and enters the retirement realm, we asked those who have worked alongside him to share memories and congratulations. We know Ron is going to get us for this, but we couldn’t let him leave without a fitting tribute. Goodbye, farewell, amen. (See page A7.) -Erica Gholson Waldman

As longtime reporter Ron Gholson says goodbye to the work-a-day world and enters the retirement realm, we asked those who have worked alongside him to share memories and congratulations. We know Ron is going to get us for this, but we couldn’t let him leave without a fitting tribute. Goodbye, farewell, amen. (See page A7.) -Erica Gholson Waldman

As Ron Gholson moves into the retirement chapter of his life, I feel as if it’s the end of an era. I have been here 18 years and Ron started shortly after I did. We have been through a lot over the years and have mourned the deaths of several owners/co-workers: Nelson Green, Lisa Ryan, Jim Still, Joyce Peak, Jane Hill, Molly Howard, and Rob Rice. We were here when things were still bustling in the back office when we still pasted up pages. We were here late nights waiting on Lisa to make decisions about the front page. We spent countless days listening to Molly crank out copy on her typewriter. We have watched my son grow up here at the office. We have seen ownership of the paper change hands, twice. The list goes on and on.

When Ron came here, he brought his coffee mug with him. It was from an ad campaign that he had worked on at a previous job and it states “Don’t Buy the Cow” with a picture of a cow on it. He has drank thousands of cups of coffee from it over the years. In the afternoons, it is always at the kitchen sink. One day a few years ago it was back there, but it was broken. I knew he was upset about it; it’s his favorite. I couldn’t have Ron at this office without his coffee cup. So I went on Ebay and by amazing luck found another one. I had to pay $30 for it, but that was fine. That coffee cup was Ron. Things weren’t the same without him drinking coffee out of it every morning. So after he began packing up his things from his office, the first day I realized his coffee cup was gone was hard. It made it real that he was leaving.

The Blount County Commission issued a proclamation in June congratulating Ron Gholson on his retirement from The Blount Countian. Pictured during the meeting are (from left): Dean Calvert, Chris Green, Gholson, Nick Washburn, and Allen Armstrong.

The Blount County Commission issued a proclamation in June congratulating Ron Gholson on his retirement from The Blount Countian. Pictured during the meeting are (from left): Dean Calvert, Chris Green, Gholson, Nick Washburn, and Allen Armstrong.

Times have changed. Newspaper operations have changed. But Ron, you will always be a part of my newspaper family. I will miss all the questions that you always have for me. I hope you will stop by from time to time to keep in touch. Your key will always work here. And don’t forget to bring your “Don’t Buy the Cow” cup when you come so you can drink some coffee. This office isn’t the same without it, or you.

Stephen Gholson, Erica Gholson Waldman, and their dad, Ron. -Erica Gholson Waldman

Stephen Gholson, Erica Gholson Waldman, and their dad, Ron. -Erica Gholson Waldman

-Jenna Wood

Congratulations Ron!

I appreciate all that you have done while serving the Oneonta community by reporting and writing for The Blount Countian. You have been a good friend to the Oneonta City School system and we will miss working with you.

Take care and enjoy a well deserved retirement!

Daniel Smith, Superintendent
Oneonta City Schools

Four adjectives immediately come to mind when I think about Ron. The first three are readily apparent to anyone who has worked with him at The Blount Countian: tenacious, fair, and private.

Ron’s tenacity comes out when he bites into a story. He’s a bulldog, chasing down every lead, calling everyone who might be involved, and doing what it takes to get the story. He is also fair in his reporting. If the public’s good isn’t served, Ron would never take a gratuitous shot at anyone. Ron also cherishes his privacy, and it is the rare person who can peel the layers of that onion to discover what is inside.



The fourth adjective is one I think most people don’t get to see; Ron is really funny. He has hilarious stories to tell, but you have to pry them out. On two rare occasions, I’ve been present when that happened.

I will miss Ron’s reporting and his way of explaining complex stuff in a way that even I can understand. It takes a good writer to do that. Mostly though, I’ll miss the chance to peel that onion a little more and hear more stories. Godspeed, Ron on your next adventure.

-Roger Thorne

Public service is more than running for office or working for a local government. It can take the form of keeping the public informed and always looking for the truth. Ron spent many years serving the citizens of Blount County by reporting on local government. This is a vital part of transparency – a free press that takes the data and digs for the truth. Ron has made Blount County a better, more transparent place.

John Bullard, County Administrator

Working with Ron Gholson for the past six years has been a great joy. He is an old-school newspaper guy, and I connected with him on that level. He puts his heart and soul into every story he writes, always wanting to help the reader understand what’s going on in the situation.

Ron is mostly serious about everything, but not always. It always puts a smile on my face when he throws in some tongue-in-cheek ending to a feature. Rob didn’t always let him get away with that. I like to think I was a little more lenient during the time I’ve been editing his copy. I will always remember you as the one person who was capable of making the entire first paragraph of an article one long sentence.

Ron has a wealth of information about plants, gardening, government, public officials, and lots of other stuff. He is not well-versed, as a bachelor, in domestic issues. He asked Ginger and me countless questions about how to cook this or that or how to do this or that around the house. He always came back with a report of his experience with our advice. I think we steered him right most of the time.

The most vivid in my memory is him asking if I knew how to get burned gunk out of the bottom of a saucepan. I told him I personally just used a stainless steel scrubber and elbow grease, but I’d seen a trick on the internet. It involved putting a dryer sheet in water covering the gunk and allowing it to soak overnight. The gunk would magically wipe away in the morning. I don’t recall if it worked or not (Ron could tell you), but I do recall the look on his face. Priceless.

I will miss most our office tradition of birthday card messages. He came up with some doozies and we always tried to outdo him. My favorite, and his go-to, is “Illegitimati non-carborundum” which is Latin for “Don’t let the bastards grind you down” (loosely translated). I have it taped to my computer screen and it reminds me not to take this life too seriously.

Ron, we love you and we are going to miss you terribly. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement. Stop by anytime to visit. If you’ll call ahead, I’ll have a pot of coffee ready to go and I promise it will float an iron wedge.

-Melanie Skillman

Since 2003, a face has been a constant in the communications of this county. Behind a small pen and pad, Ron Gholson has worked diligently to take the notes of Blount County. Being a member of the media is not something that always gets you greeted with a red carpet. Nonetheless, Ron has faithfully dictated council meetings, commission meetings, and the current events we see happening all around us.

After 17 years, Ron has decided to put the cap on the pen and tuck away his notepad. The countless photos that have graced the pages of this paper and the thousands of words that have been printed on its pages by Ron have helped to ensure we as citizens stay informed and educated. Being no easy burden to bear, Ron has always been a fair and balanced reporter for The Blount Countian.

Ron, you are appreciated, valued, and admired by so many. Thank you for your desire to be the voice of our people. Thank you for a lovely career of information and honor. Thank you for sharing your time and mind with us all. You will be missed, but always remembered as a staple at this newspaper.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” – Mark Twain

-Richard Phillips

Ron has a question. Or three. Or a dozen. If you’ve been in an interview or conversation with Ron, he had questions. He never shied away from one last question or two. The answers went into the tiny notepad Ron always had at the ready. I never thought the day would come when that notepad would be retired.

I remember fondly Ron rolling up a chair – “You got a minute?” I always, of course, had a minute. I never knew if we would discuss the serious business of local politics – “Tell me what you know about this person/situation,” a homemaker question – “Where do you think I could find a smallish, one-person fry pan?” or “You know, if your daughter can master a jump shot, she will be an unstoppable basketball player.” He brought her a basketball one day shortly after that conversation, even came to watch the county tournament that year.

We had many discussions about the river – he was always interested in my kayak and canoe floats, the Cahaba lilies, and wanted to see every photo. “How are your tomatoes coming along?” We would compare garden victories – “Ginger, your ‘zinn-iers” (sic) are beautiful.” Over the years, we discussed recipes, home remedies, sports, schools, careers, kids, vacations, you name it, we probably touched on the topic over the years.

At The Blount Countian, we always celebrated birthdays. A tradition that began a long, long time ago. Everyone got a card for their birthday, and the whole office signed it. Ron’s one liners and well wishes were thoughtful, wickedly funny, and relevant. Heck, we never knew just how old he was, but he loved a good strawberry cobbler and was always very appreciative and surprised when we made one for him for his birthday.

Ron Gholson. One of my favorite people on this planet. A nature lover, an accomplished singer, a person quick to compliment and express gratitude, seeker of knowledge. Asker of questions. One thing there is NO question about – this county, and most certainly this newspaper, are better because of him. To channel Molly Howard: Splendid work, Ron. Godspeed.

-Ginger Perkins

I’m so appreciative to the paper for hiring my dad those many years ago. He has always been a bit of a Renaissance Man. He began and maintained almost a full career with the ad agency, then ran his own nursery business until one exceptionally dry summer. With two young kids at home, he embarked on yet another career transition. Even as a young child, I remember him polishing his resume once more and remember the relief when he was hired at the paper.

My brother and I rode the bus to school in Springville and were both involved in extracurriculars after school, so Dad kept the roads hot. I can’t imagine that round-trip from Remlap to Oneonta to Springville for pickup every day, but Dad managed it like a pro. He took great pride in his work and loved those he worked with dearly. After living by the rhythm of the news cycle for years, us kids will always remember his weekly proclamation, urgent and lively, “It’s deadline day!” and I am thankful and excited for the new rhythms he will enjoy in the days to come.

-Erica Gholson Waldman

I would like to first congratulate Ron on his retirement. I have had the privilege to work with Ron in my positions as a deputy sheriff, school board member, probate judge, and as state representative. Even though the subject of news can sometimes be a bit “touchy,” I have always found Ron to be respectful and courteous. I believe he used his voice as a reporter to improve our community, and he was always eager to report “good news.” Congratulations again Ron and enjoy your retirement!

– David Standridge

Although I have only worked directly with Ron for two and one-half years, I have known him for several years. In my pre-retirement years, Ron and I worked together on stories from the prevention of child abuse to Christmas generosity and everything in between.

Except for a quick pouring of coffee or a mandatory staff meeting, Ron could usually be found in his office working quietly. He is a reserved individual who keeps to himself most of the time and did not enjoy being in our nonsense crowd of four at the office.

Occasionally we would insist he be included in our shenanigans, such as posing with the gang and our stripper Santa or dressed in our ugly sweaters, but for the most part, he is very reserved. He likes it that way.

One of my favorite times with Ron was the day we celebrated his birthday with our usual staff lunch. We asked Ron what he would like for lunch, hoping for something easy like pizza, tacos, or barbeque.

That was not the case. Ron wanted bucket steak, homemade mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, biscuits, and one of his favorites, strawberry cobbler. But not just any strawberry cobbler, he wanted it cooked in a wash tub like his grandmother did.

Everyone has a different version of their favorite cobbler, and Ron had his favorite, too. We obliged and began scouring the internet for recipes that hopefully met his requirements. After hours of searching, okay, maybe just minutes, we determined he wanted something similar to strawberry dumplings with a crust on top. And, it had to be cooked in an old fashioned wash tub.

Having such an accommodating group of co-workers, I apparently drew the short straw and was assigned this feat of creating the perfect strawberry cobbler. “Piece of cake” I told them, but inside I kept thinking, “What if I fail?” or “What if I disappoint Ron?”

B-day was upon us. The group ventured into the kitchenette to serve up a wonderful homestyle meal. Jenna found bucket steak. Yes, it literally came in a bucket. Aimee, who had never fried steak in an electric skillet, had Jenna and Melanie teaching her the “in’s and out’s” of frying steak and making gravy. And there I was, whipping up a strawberry cobbler and cooking it in a wash tub. Jenna offered moral support. It was definitely a sight to behold.

At noon, Ron emerged from his office and seemed delighted at the main course. Everything was scrumptious and could not have been better even if Paula Deen had fixed it herself.

Now it was time for dessert. Strawberry cobbler cooked in a wash tub, just as he requested. He eagerly plopped a spoonful on his plate, and, to everyone’s delight, especially mine, it was to his liking (see photo above). No, it was not exactly like grandma’s, but it was close, and I was happy about that.

As the day ended, we decided next year he would only get a choice of pizza, tacos, or barbeque. It would not be as adventurous, but it would be so much easier. Thank you Ron, you will be truly missed. Enjoy your retirement days. They are well deserved.

-Cheryl Helton

Last Tuesday marked the end of a long and very special chapter here at The Blount Countian as Ron Gholson turned in his last story, said see ya sometime, and quietly walked out the door into the world of retirement.

Since coming on board in 2003, he’s covered a lot of the happenings that have gone on throughout Blount County. That’s 17 years of meetings, ribbon cuttings, elections, events, and whatever else might come along on any given day.

I first met Ron in 2007 when I started working at the chamber. He spent many afternoons with Charles Carr talking politics and reminiscing about the good ole days. I loved hearing those stories and I learned so much about Blount County through those afternoon chats.

I also found a kindred spirit, someone who shared the same passion for the craft of journalism. He respected his craft and the responsibility it carried. And he was the same journalist last Tuesday as he was when he first started. But, really, he’s so much more. He’s a newspaperman. He presented the news fairly and fully, always striving for balance. His body of writing is the perfect example of how stories should be done.

Ron was of the old school and I am so glad he was. In a world that doesn’t want to slow down, we need the Ron’s of the world to keep us grounded. And I am thankful that I’ve gotten to spend these last two years with him as a part of this Blount Countian family.

I’ll miss our political talks, his funny stories, and his historical tidbits.

Ron, you reminded me of why I fell in love with this craft so long ago and you reminded me that journalism still matters.

I wish you the best as you start this next chapter! Thank you for sharing your talents with us all.

P.S. I’ll still need you to come by for those chats every now and then!

-Aimee Wilson