Thanks!

As Thanksgiving nears, it's time to express gratitude and appreciation for the many good things life has brought me. Dare I say, outstanding experiences and relationships have come my way.

My career as a writer spans 45 years — 50 if I count my senior year in high school. That’s when I got the good fortune to work as a part-time sportswriter at my hometown paper, the Billings Gazette.

And the rewarding experiences continued. In Montana, we used to say, and perhaps still say, that our primary export is well-educated young people. A classic example: armed with engineering degrees from Montana State University, many bright people headed to Seattle to work for Boeing.

Their hope was to make enough money to come back to Montana, buy a ranch, and raise a family in a truly splendid setting,

As for me, I consider myself extremely fortunate because my journalism degree allowed to make a living in the Treasure State most of my adult life. I never got rich, but I almost always found purpose and passion as a journalist.

Fulfillment generally came with being a member of the Fourth Estate. For me, at least.

Life came full circle this week. I visited my high school, Billings West, where I graduated in 1969 with about 650 classmates. This was near the peak of the time when Baby Boomers busted down school house doors with their sheer numbers.

When I was at West High, I was a reporter for the school paper, the Kodiak. (A nod to our school mascot, the Golden Bears.) I wanted to chat with the current school newspaper advisor to get a sense of where journalism education, at the high school level, stands today. I missed connections with this teacher but did find my way to the library where I met Erin, the head librarian.

During our conversation, I mentioned my career trajectory leading to the present chapter as a book author.

One thing led to another, and I offered to donate signed copies of both my books to the West High library. Erin readily accepted.

Today, when I delivered the books, she said she would mention them to other faculty members, starting with history teachers.

The possibility exists that I will be invited back to speak to a high school class. The thought of touching, in some small way, young people and possibility motivating a few to take up journalism based on the example of someone who walked the same halls they do … That is reward measured in non-monetary currency.

The possibility exists that I will be invited back to speak to a high school class. The thought of touching, in some small way, young people and possibility motivating a few to take up journalism based on the example of someone who walked the same halls they do … That is reward measured in non-monetary currency.

My thanks to everyone who has made this journey possible: high school teachers, university professors, newspaper editors, reporter colleagues, my late wife, Carolyn, for the motivation to write she provided at a key moment, and, perhaps above all, my parents, for their unstinting belief in my potential.

It’s been a fine life, and I hope the best years lie ahead.

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