A salute to the journalism icon you’ve never heard of

Just a few people witnessed the historic scene Thursday evening in Bowling Green, Ky. It passed quietly, but it’s significance required documentation.

Mr. A on Thursday.

The last page was flipped and that was it. Retirement unofficially began for Bob Adams a few minutes before 6 on Thursday evening. The last paper was put to bed.

Bob Adams you ask?

You probably don’t know the name, but you’re familiar with his work. You just never realized it.

For 44 straight years, Mr. A molded the careers of journalists you read every day. He was is a surrogate father for generations of aspiring newspaper men/women at Western Kentucky University.

The news organizations of Alabama are littered with Mr A products. You’re reading one right now.

He’s been the adviser of the award-winning College Heights Herald since 1968 and the director of Student Publications since 1990. Mr. A is the guy who, with a wink and a grunt, taught the lessons of newspapering to more than a few future stars. He’s seen 20 students go on to win Pulitzer Prizes — the Heisman and Super Bowl MVP of journalism.

But that’s just a small cross section of the population Mr. A touched. Hundreds of reporters, photographers, copy editors and people with serious jobs have him to thank.

Patience should be renamed in his honor. How he put up with the antics of quirky college students is baffling. And he did it proudly and without celebration.

That’s why he deserves a curtain call today.

I couldn’t miss that historic moment Thursday evening when he presided over the final Herald production day of his incredible career. It was a special moment for all in the 4-year old building named for Mr. A.

I can’t tell you how much Mr. A means to the people he advised over the years. I still call him when advice is needed. In that sense, he’ll never retire.

We all owe Mr. A a debt of gratitude. You just didn’t know it until now.

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