Thursday, February 02, 2017

Tom Thoma's lesson in signing off with grace

There was another project on my mind this morning, but upon opening Facebook I found the following and decided to let my friend Tom Thoma --- without asking him, of course --- do the talking.

I wrote a little yesterday about veteran staffers in the newsroom at The Mason City Globe-Gazette whose jobs were eliminated abruptly on Tuesday, but didn't name them. Among them were Rosann Boyle, the voice and face of the newsroom for many years, and Bob Steenson, veteran news editor whose title became "content editor" as trendy naming practices spread through medialand.

But the big one for many was Tom Thoma, who began work in the newsroom during the 1960s as a high school student, returned after earning his Drake University degree and remained loyal to the organization thereafter, filling every writing and editorial slot imaginable as the years passed and serving as a mentor to hundreds.

For a while it looked as if Tom wasn't going to mention this latest "inconvenience" --- another of his passions is as a volunteer at the Winter Dance Party now in progress at Clear Lake's Surf Ballroom and he was busy there. Then another friend posted a nice tribute on Tom's timeline and the messages began to flow in.

This is Tom's response, as gracious a reaction to disappointment as I've seen and vintage, typical Tom:

I was scanning Facebook, looking for more Packers shirts to buy, when I came on an incredible outpouring of comments about my job status.

Just kidding about the Packers shirt but not the job status. Yes, it's true. After a nice run at the Globe Gazette, I was told my job was eliminated. Short and sweet. I was thanked for my service, and away I went -- the same fate met by several other really good people.

Left behind: enough food in my desk to feed a small city plus some other really great people who I will miss greatly.

So far, I've been very busy at the Surf's great Winter Dance Party, so I've not had a lot of time to read and/or respond. But I owe all of you who took time to write something my deepest thanks and a few thoughts, if you'd care to read them.

Do not think unkindly of the Globe for all of this; think what you will of the mothership, Lee Enterprises. Stockholders expect/demand a nice return on their investment, and I -- we -- just didn't fit the game plan. Business is business. I was crushed at the suddenness of it but not that it happened. I'd seen really good people be shown the door in the past. I was a dinosaur in the tar pit.

Do, I urge you, think well of those talented people still producing news and sports stories and photos in the Globe newsroom. In my opinion, they represent the best news gathering and reporting organization in North Iowa and better than many in Iowa. Keep reading; they will not disappoint.

As for me, well, I will have some time on my hands. I plan to:

* Catch many more sunrises and sunsets.

* Ditto for plays, concerts and community events.

* Take in more UW-Oshkosh women's basketball games.

* Take good care of my only remaining kidney and try to shed a few pounds.

* Meet new people. Broaden my base of friends -- no more excuse of working nights.

* Do some freelance writing. (PM me with any opportunities.)

* Drink a wee bit more good North Iowa beer.

* Try to get around and see more of Iowa I've never seen.

* Play more golf -- shocker, I know.

* Ride my bike way more.

* Organize and clean my house -- by far the least-appealing on this list.

* Volunteer more.

* A couple of personal goals.

* Plus a big "who knows what else" category.

Most days, I woke up and ask myself: "You've been given another day. What are you going to do to make it count?"

As I've been telling most of you who have been so kind to write that I'm eager for added opportunities. I joke around a lot, but have never been more serious about that.

So thank you so much again for the remarkably kind words. I appreciate the support more than you can imagine. Humbled, as Duke Ellington once said, beyond category.

As I've said, it was a nice run. Now, it's time to get on with things, starting with the amazing Winter Dance Party with my Surf friends.

In music, in life, "Rock on!"


CJ Nicklay said...

what class! Tom, I hope you start a blog or something so I can keep up with progress on that list. All the best to you!

John Sprole said...

Tom, I've known you since kindergarten. You were always a class act. You still are.

Toni mascik downey said...

Tom, I first met you when you cast me in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown for the community theatre in the mid-70s. You were a gentleman and had such a good heart then, and clearly that never changed. Sorry about your job loss, but also very excited for all the things you have planned to do with the rest of your life.

Tom Pauley said...

Tom, You and haven't always agreed on some of the issues that the Globe covered but you gave reasons for your choices that were rational and succinct. I appreciate that and the newspaper business is less today than the day before. Good luck.