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OPINION

FROM THE EDITOR: Have patience and don't judge until you have walked in someone else's shoes

K. William Boyer
Washington County News

Dear Friends, 

As I write this my heart sits in sorrow and my thoughts in disarray.  September 25 will forever be marked with sadness for me after last Friday, when after a year of suffering from one of the most grueling and painful kinds of cancers known to human kind, my family lost one of the bravest and one of the most strong willed human beings I know when my uncle Mertel Kevin Boyer, passed away in the mid afternoon.  

My uncle was a 14 year naval veteran and spent many years after working for the government.  He was a loving son, brother, and uncle to his family and friends and gave freely and generously of himself to anyone in need, going above and beyond.  My uncle was a man I looked up to and admired, He was a man whom I was given part of my name from, and he taught me always give my best and to be strong and never to give up on what I believed in .  Uncle Marty loved fishing and being in the country and lived in an area that very much remined me of Holmes and Washington  Counties. I wish he could have been able to come up here to see these places once. I feel like he would have enjoyed them immensely.   

In the time he was sick I frequently drove over 200 miles two or three times a week to see him, many times while still trying to serve the community as best I could.  I was assigned to take over these papers just a year ago (on paper at least) a week ago Monday, though physically I was not placed here until October of last year.  And since that time I have been trying as hard as I could to be as involved as I could in the communities and get to know all I could from the communities, while all the times trying to help care for my uncle who dying 200 miles away. 

I was told that because I was not born and bred from these counties that I would not be warmly welcomed, that I would be looked at as an outsider.  This has been a mixed truth. I have indeed been leered at by some because I came from over 100 miles away, I have indeed been looked upon as an outcast. There were those who felt that, perhaps because I did not do things, to quote a phrase, "the way it was always done," or I was not focusing on an area they felt needed to be focused due to my trying to focusing on a great many things as best I can, it was better to try to break me down.  This is very disheartening for someone who has no family or friends who is in a place all on his own, yet because his uncle taught him to give your best to the ones you serve, I continued to give my all to the community and tried to serve them as best I knew how.  

Now, there were those in both counties who welcomed me warmly, who treated me a friend. To them I give my greatest of thanks and gratitude for without you I probably would have given into the doubt and discouragement that began to settle in from seeing my father, the other person besides my uncle who is the hero in my life, fall apart from seeing his younger brother waste away from an illness neither of us could do anything about and know there was nothing I could do to comfort him. To these wonderful people, whom I wish with all my heart I could name here, I can only hope and pray you know who you are.  

One person I will thank with all my heart who was the very first person who welcomed me to the county, is the dearly departed Kathy Foster.  She was the first person who told me I was a welcomed member of the community with a hug and told me how happy she was I was here.  I wish more people in the world had Kathy's heart.  

K. William Boyer, editor of Washington County News and Holmes County Times Advertiser

I wrote this letter to you my readers, my fellow community members, my friends, to tell you this, I remain dedicated to you and to talk about some things that have been on my mind and heart lately.  I want to be here with you, that is why I came to serve you as editor.  My advocation is for community involvement with the papers.  I want to hear from you.  I want reader submission.  Send me your pictures, write an article that will appear on the front page, sports enthusiast submit a sports analysis, its not that we at the paper are not wanting to do our job.  We still will be working.  Its that I want to highlight the community members I just want to show you off!  

BUT I also want to remind everyone that we live in continuously changing times. The hard truth is that what we all knew about the paper, all paper is changing. What past journalists and past editors knew of the workings of the papers no longer are true.  What I knew of the paper is changing continuously.  It is ever evolving just as the world is. What my promise to you is, I will keep it your local touch in it for as long as I'm here.  

Over the next several months, I will be working to handle my uncle's estate, but I will not be taking any leave of absence from work.  I will be as available as possible, so please feel free to call me or email me, I would love to speak with you.  Please feel free to ask to have a cup of coffee, I'd love to meet with you.  But also, please have patience with me as I help my family navigate through this difficult time and please my friends, remember, don't judge or be to harsh on someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes. 

Kevin William Boyer is the editor of the Washington County News and Holmes County Times Advertiser. He can be reached at 850-261-7476 or at kboyer@chipleypaper.com.