Well, you can’t afford to buy them all a round at the local watering hole or take them all out to lunch, but when you’ve spent 12 years at one particular job and you’re moving on and you have an opportunity to publicly acknowledge the people who helped shape your work life in a positive way during that time, you do it. I’m forced to be brief here, so please note that for sure it’s likely this list is unintentionally incomplete, and I’m sorry if that’s the case.

Thanks to Becky Lomax for the stability. Drew Carter for the unusual convos during many lunches. Graham Johnston, the kid who grew up, got a job, and garnered the respect. Terry Dean for being the quiet soul and great reporter you are. Bob Uphues for the wisdom, the local sports history, the spitting truth, the furious pounding of the keyboard. Andrea Mankowski for the help and support at the beginning. Bob Sullivan for the useful notes, the insight, the humor — I miss you, man! John Quinn, fellow father of multiple daughters — God blessed us, or did he? Katie Fetting for not killing me. Nick Moroni for the handlebar moustache.

Thanks to Dave Power for the suspenders and the snakeskin cowboy boots long ago (not mine, his), not to mention the Grinnell-style hoops and winning two state titles during this run. Chris Ledbetter for the passionate devotion to his high school alma mater and winning a state baseball title during this run. Andy Mead for the laugh heard ’round the world.

Thanks to the always congenial, always informative, always tan Dave Hogan. Matt Maloney for the quick answers to questions and reading between the lines. Jim Nudera for the unruffled disposition during some tough seasons. John Stelzer for being helpful and always accommodating. Mike Curtin for hearing me out and then putting me in my place and then laughing at us both.

Thanks to Mel Kolbusz for his always pleasant manner and his old-school way of doing things. Joe DiCanio for always being available, always honest. Frank Pinc for the kindness and patience during the early years. Jerry Ruffino for the time.

Thanks to Marty Stempniak for being Marty Stempniak. Ed Stritzel for your consistent help. Thanks to Marty Farmer, our devoted freelance writer for a decade or so. Bob Biggins, your help with information was much appreciated. Thanks to Andy Johnston for the aspirin and the brief few words every day in the doorway of the newsroom. Dave Perry for allowing me to bother you with phone calls every Sunday (you are missed). Scott Thies for your availability. Bill Dwyer for your freelance work in the early years. Al Allen for never changing. Ben Meyerson for making us in awe of you (ask Stemp, he’ll explain). 

Thanks to all the current and former sports columnists I’ve had the pleasure of editing like Jack Crowe, Paul Oppenheim, Lynne Higgins, Mike Deering, Marc Blesoff and Chuck Race. Thanks to JP Coughlin for the details. Josh Hawkins for looking past the Bears/Packers thing. Daniel Escalona for the inspiration. Mike Powell for the same thing. Jason Nichols for breaking down every aspect of a Trinity basketball game from start to finish without any notes. Dan Heim for the national coverage. Thanks to Devin Rose, Alaina Buzas, and Anna Lothson for not forcing me to drink coffee.

Thanks to all the local athletes who graced these pages or inadvertently didn’t grace these pages but should have. 

OK, I saved a few for last because they’ve been extra special. Thanks to sports section editorial designer Mark Tatara for putting up with me for several years. For a guy who knows little about sports but can scorch a guitar, Tatara, you sure can lay out one heck of a section every week. Thanks to Ken Trainor for making sense of my columns all these years and for hiring me. And thanks to Dan Haley for the paychecks. Nah, it’s much more than that. Thanks Dan for the wisdom, the loyalty, the leadership, and, most importantly, the free donuts on Thursday mornings.    

And thanks to Eileen, Abby, Sarah, Kate and Marie for tolerating me dragging you to a game or two.

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...

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