Opinion

It's not goodbye, but 'until we meet again ... '

 

March 1989
My husband and I left California seeking a new backyard — with me driving my '87 Mazda wagon packed tight front to back, along with our 3-year-old son and a Siamese-looking cat, and Rick behind the wheel of a U-Haul truck loaded with an accumulation of 20 years of coastal living.

We loved the central coast for the same reason we now love Sequim. The reason is overly simple and painfully obvious. We live in the most beautiful, indescribably special place currently on Planet Earth. 

Incredible natural beauty and some of the sweetest, most moderate air on or near the Pacific Ocean.

We left the lovely and rural central coast of California for the same reason lots of others had. It became over-crowded with southern Californians seeking escape from the smog-ridden L.A. Basin.

Quality of life was the central thing on our minds and just about everyone else’s who came to Sequim during the 1990s. Talk of a “banana belt” on the far northwest coast of Washington was alluring.

I wanted to find a place to live with like-minded folks who valued their community and its environment and who cared enough to preserve those things which, when you walked out on the front porch, made you feel like you were living in the backyard of a park.

We didn’t have jobs but were still young enough and arrogant enough to believe we could find work anywhere. And I’ll be darned if I didn’t find a job and one that would sustain me and my family through 23 years of what has been a pretty great ride!

Brown M. Maloney, former owner of the Sequim Gazette, with his generosity and passion for newspapers, helped to build community by cultivating strong employees and putting resources into this business. 

Many of us still here and some who’ve traveled elsewhere caught the fire to make this newspaper a shaper and builder of Sequim. By celebrating and recognizing countless great community volunteers, elected officials, neighbors, readers and advertisers, the Gazette has helped to shape a community which is known for coming together and working together. 

And yes, there have been differences among us but most everyone I know is proud to live in a place where quality of life is the reason they came and the reason they stayed.

The Sequim Gazette is Sequim’s Hometown Newspaper and one of the top three community weekly newspapers in the state. The Sequim Gazette has earned seven general excellence awards locally, regionally and nationally in the past seven out of eight years, six of them being first place.

I never thought I’d ever work anywhere more than 10-15 years, much less 23.

A couple of years ago, heading into year 6-0, I started thinking about change. One thing and then another happened. Brown made a life-changing kind of decision and another man with a passion for community newspapers, David Black of Sound Publishing, decided to buy not only the Gazette and our sister newspaper the Forks Forum but also the Peninsula Daily News.

Now nine months into what has been another life-changing kind of experience, I have decided to step back and take stock of it all. I’ve learned about this business from everyone I’ve ever worked with but my peers, mentors and friends in the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association were my best teachers. 

Newly appointed President Gloria Fletcher is my latest hero. Under her leadership, I think Sound Publishing will continue to strengthen while re-tooling an industry that some predicted wouldn’t make it into the millennium. We showed them!

I won’t be a stranger. This community is my home, it matters to me and I plan to remain on the scene. Sequim’s 100th anniversary as a city is coming up and it promises to be a yearlong celebration. I plan to help the city celebrate. 

I’ve enjoyed the rolling hills of northern Oklahoma, the Manzano mountains in northern New Mexico, Hollister Peak in San Luis Obispo County and the Pacific Ocean as my backyard … the Olympics and the Strait of Juan de Fuca are equally special and often surpass the rest. I found my forever backyard. I found it. 

So, who wouldn’t want to retire in the middle of July and take the very best month of the whole year off? 

What will I do? Reclining in my swing under the trees, watching the garden run riot while realigning my brain sounds like a place to start.
 
Sue Ellen Riesau is a Sequim resident and former publisher of Olympic View Publishing.
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