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By Jason Deal

I hate long, sad, mushy good-byes, but fate finds us saying farewell to two of my valued co-workers and friends this week.

Julie Cunningham has always worked behind the scenes at The Times and is responsible for plumb nearly all the ads and all the pages in our editions each week. She has made my stories, copy and photos look good when they have been disasters. I know. I took them and wrote them and made a mess with them. Julie always bailed me out.

Julie has always been a very passionate person about what she does and those she loves, including her husband, Jeff, her circle of family and friends, and her critters.

Julie has always been our weather person at The Times, she always has something cooking and generally, she had a playlist going on her computer as she was turning out page after page after page of each week’s edition. Her catch phrase has always been “Easy”.

I must say, however, that I wondered about her at first.

Probably my first encounter with Julie came after leaving a mess in the break room one day after I first started at The Times. Yes, Julie’s been here longer than I have, but she must have started when she was about 10 years old.

Anyways, I got a memo about my mess.

“Clean up after yourself. Your mother doesn’t work here.”

I wondered if she liked me, but I soon grew to love and appreciate her.

First met Sarah Tarr Gove when she came to The Times  as a summer intern many years ago. I think she was probably about 10 then, too, but I have never been good at math.

We’ve always had a good relationship and she has done a fantastic job as news editor at The Times these last three years.

I have literally watched her grow up. She was an intern learning the ropes, next an editor in an area town and then she came back home to Pierce County. I’ve also been around to see her get married and become a loving wife and devoted mother.

Yes, I think that makes me an old fogey.

She has bailed me out more times than I can count and is a consummate professional and one of the most organized people I know.

The aroma of coffee fills the office whenever she is here. She literally runs on coffee. She has long indulged my love for chocolate chip cookies and listened to my long and incessant stories about everything under the sun.

As my old friend Robert M. Williams Jr. used to say, “you write as long as you talk” and “Jason has more cousins than Carter’s got liver pills.”

A sense of sadness and reserve has fallen across the office this week as we begin to make this transition.

Julie is moving on to a job in Waycross closer to her home and Sarah will be the new executive director of the Pierce Chamber of Commerce.

We’ve all shared a lot of good and not so good times, laughs and fun together through the years.

The only constant in this life is that everything changes. I am allergic to change, but we have to adapt to it.

So, I won’t say goodbye.

I simply say, I’ll be seeing you Julie and Sarah.

Jason Deal is a staff writer for The Blackshear Times. Reach him at