Transitions. Stages. Changes.
Such is the nature of life, and I am about to embark on a new chapter.
For 32 years, I have been privileged to be part of a very special family known as Bangor Publishing Company.
My professional identity, since 1979, has been “Joni Averill of the Bangor Daily News.”
As of Friday, Oct. 21, I will no longer be that public person.
I will be a private person, joining a new, ever-growing “family.”
I will be a retiree.
I will miss being part of your daily life, as you have been part of mine.
Through the years, from 1979 to 1995, I was a six-days-a-week columnist/reporter with the BDN sports desk.
I had the opportunity to meet hundreds of young women who, along with their coaches, families and friends, would find their lives forever changed as a result of Title IX that allowed them to take full advantage of their athletic talents and gifts.
I’ve met the famous, the not-so-famous, and those not famous at all.
I’ve sat in the Boston Red Sox dugout and interviewed a Sox manager, and walked the halls of what once was Allagash High School.
As a member of the sports desk, I had the opportunity to share with you personal stories and memories of my family and friends and, from 1995 to the present as a community columnist, to share some of the greatest joys and deepest sorrows you have experienced in your lives.
I owe this opportunity of a lifetime, the culmination of a childhood dream to be a journalist, to my publisher, Rick Warren, and my first editor, the late Bud Leavitt.
It was at a private gathering in early September of ’79 that Rick, knowing of my interest in women’s athletics, asked if I ever applied for a position on the BDN sports desk.
I had, a year earlier, and was turned down by the then-managing editor.
Rick told me on that bright September day that Bud Leavitt was looking for a female to cover women’s sports, and Rick suggested I give Bud a call.
I did, and the rest is history.
I was thrilled, as a 38-year-old housewife with little or no professional experience, that Bud chose me from among six younger, highly qualified candidates.
I always thought it might have had something to do with the fact I not only knew where Wytopitlock was, but I also knew how to pronounce it, and how to spell it. Correctly.
What Bud wanted, as women’s sports was beginning to make a mark of its own, was someone “to take care of the woman problem.”
And we did. Marvelously well.
At the time, the BDN became the leader in the state in coverage of women’s sports, and we’ve continued to set that standard.
Later, as the author of BDN’s The Standpipe, my list of friends and acquaintances expanded, tremendously, as I heard from people throughout eastern, northern and central Maine; the state and the nation, who wanted their stories of community events and activities told so that you could help them achieve their goals.
It has been a joy to be the conduit for spreading the good news about all that you do, each and every day, to care for and to help each other through the good times, and through the bad.
Maine is really one great, big small town, and we are fortunate to have so many connections from one end of this state to the other.
Some people like to say there are two Maines, but I know differently: We are truly one.
We are a very caring state with committed, concerned citizens who look out for each other day and night.
In June of this year, I began the third chapter of my BDN career when I took on the responsibility of overseeing our new Positively Maine page, which now appears daily online and each Wednesday in print.
I am pleased to tell you that page will continue under the guidance of Ardeana Hamlin, well-known author, BDN columnist and current assistant editor of The Midcoast Beacon and The Weekly. I urge you to send news of your community activities and events to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit it online at bangordailynews.com.
Being a member of the Bangor Daily News staff has been a wonderful experience.
How many people are lucky enough to have shared the lives of co-workers for an entire career?
How many have the opportunity to become real friends with co-workers, some of whom are young enough to not only be your children but, in a few instances, your grandchildren?
Among the BDN staff, in every single department from maintenance to editorial, there is no friendship or generation gap.
We care for one another. We know it, and we show it.
That is a true blessing.
Finally, in this business, in its own special way, you welcome us into your home every day.
Thank you for letting me be part of your life.