Continuing the legacy of excellence

Published 12:50 pm Thursday, March 16, 2023

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In February, I had the privilege of interviewing Lowndes County native Des Wingard, who is living his dream and carrying on the legacy of delivering Alabama’s breaking news and weather, fast and first, as news director at WSFA.

As a young child, instead of watching cartoons after school, Wingard watched the news, specifically the WSFA  6 p.m. report with legendary news anchor Bob Howell.

While preparing Wingard’s story, I had the honor of posing questions to Howell, who graciously responded, praising Wingard’s dedication and strong work ethic, even as a newsroom college intern.

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Howell described how much he appreciated young men like Wingard, and others, who helped the “old guys” navigate the media industry’s latest technology. I was impressed that someone many consider to be iconic, like Howell, would draw strength from those who followed in his footsteps.

When Boone Newsmedia, Inc. founder Jim Boone died on Feb. 13, I had been with the Boone news family for just four months. While I never met Jim Boone, during that brief time he and I exchanged many emails and it’s not hard to see how he was an inspiration to so many journalists in his decades long career. 

As I looked back over my short time on staff, I recalled many moments when Boone encouraged and guided me, not only as a journalist but also in the ways of our community newspaper family.

He never hesitated to weigh in and offer guidance. And, during the week of my first really important breaking news story, he not only sent me the story assignment, but walked with me during the coverage, stayed on top of local reports, and funneled our team personal contacts and updates.

I was saddened to learn of his passing, especially because his death meant I would never know the pleasure of meeting him personally.

But I am reminded, through the challenges and joys of each new day, that our news team is living Boone’s legacy. I’ve had the honor of becoming acquainted with Lowndes County and its people, an area of our world that meant very much to him and has come to mean a great deal to me, too.

Because of his leadership I am inspired to strive for and help our whole team to work for the excellence his name represents. Like Wingard, I follow in the footsteps of a truly great man and I pray our work reflects the same standard of excellence Jim Boone inspired in everyone whose life he touched.