Thanking a mentor upon his well-deserved retirement

Note: Rusty Cunningham, one of my many mentors, has retired as editor of the LaCrosse Tribune in Wisconsin. Another of his friends asked some people from Rusty’s life to write letters, which are being collected as a retirement gift, to acknowledge his accomplishments and share stories and memories of all he has done for us. Here is the letter I wrote, which, I thought, could do double duty here.

My friendship with Rusty Cunningham, which began nearly 30 years ago, demonstrates the lengths of his patience and grace.

When Rusty joined the Ottumwa Courier as editor, I was an aggressive and arrogant young reporter who had been hired by the previous editor – like many others in the newsroom. We felt a strong allegiance to the old guy and were not overly welcoming at first to Rusty. To make it even worse, Rusty was a Cornhusker football fan. (It’s worth noting: The first version of this paragraph was about 300-words long. In my head, I heard Rusty saying, “For the love of God, Chris, get to the point.”)

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