“It’s the end of an era,” I thought as I peeked in Robert’s bare office last Monday.

I snapped a photo to my husband. His reply  — “It’s the end of an era.”

A co-worker walked by. “It’s the end of an era,” she said.

The phrase seemed to hang over everything we did at The Times last week.  The mood around our office was a bit somber, reflective. 

Monday afternoon after the sale was finalized, Robert stood in my office doorway and asked  — as he does every layout day  — if I needed anything from him.  I shook my head, no.

With a wink, he was gone.

Y’all, I’m not a crier, but my eyes were glassy. There was a lump in my throat.  If anyone deserves to go home and put their feet up, it’s Robert, but the little girl in me wanted to grab hold of his coattails. 

Robert was the longest serving editor of this 150 year old publication, covering local people, places and events for nearly a third of that time. He broke new ground, reporting Pierce County’s news in a way that had never been done prior to his arrival in 1971.

Most in our community can’t really separate Robert from The Blackshear Times. Robert is this newspaper, and this newspaper is Robert.

From its bright, eye-catching front page layout to hard-hitting, succinct headlines, and biting editorials, every inch of the weekly newspaper you know and love reflects Robert, his values, and his excellent newspapering acumen.

So, it’s a new era, but we won’t forget what’s come before us. 

Robert forged the way, making our jobs much easier now than in years past. His voice rings in my head when I write a headline or story lede. When I snap a photo I hear him saying “Take charge. You’re in control!” 

Of course, Robert would be quick to tell you much of his success is due to Cheryl working alongside him all these years. She’s kept the day-to-day operations of this business running like a well-oiled machine and her empty office pains my heart, too.

What will The Blackshear Times be without Robert and Cheryl? 

I’m not sure yet, but I take heart in The Times’ enduring history. This publication has maintained a constant presence in the community for 150 years, and will continue to do so. I certainly hope you’ll take this journey with us!

• Sarah Tarr Gove is news editor of The Blackshear Times. Email her at sgove@theblacksheartimes.com.