Losing One of my Mentors and Friends.
Working at the Falls City Journal was a job I never knew I wanted. Design and composition were never on my radar; writing, however, was. I wanted to be Al Gore’s speechwriter when he ran and won the 2000 Presidential race. I guess I dreamed big, but life happens and dreams remain just that, dreams.
When I first met Scott Schock, it was Oct. 31, 2008. I knew of him, but knew nothing about him. Brian and I dressed as John McCain and Sarah Palin for Halloween. We were taking our nieces and son around trick or treating before we went to a ‘grown-up’ Halloween party. We knocked on a random door, and this handsome, silver-haired man appeared. He laughed, said ‘Hold on, I’ll be right back!’ The next thing I knew he reappeared with a camera and our photo was on that week’s Falls City Journal. Thanks to Scott and his quick thinking, I still get called Sarah or “that Sarah Palin girl,” something that I know he got a bit of a chuckle out of for years after.
Two years later I walked into the office I’m now sitting in. It was foreign, and the only person I knew was Jason. I had no experience with writing, InDesign, Excel, Apple products or newspapers. I was scared and timid. I’ll be brutally honest when I say that it took me a few years to find my footing. I didn’t know if I liked the work and the environment was stressful. I was intimidated by Scott and Jason’s intelligence. Both men are incredibly smart on several topics, not just writing and running a newspaper. They never made/make me feel less than I am and that is something everyone deserves to experience in a boss.
In 2011 when Brian had his accident, I was terrified. I had tried to keep it together when it happened. That night in a dark Delaware parking lot after Brian fell asleep, I made one phone call to Scott Schock. I knew if I called my mom, sister or Brian’s mom or sister that I would lose it. For some reason, I called Scott and told him that I would not be able to make it into work that Tuesday. I confided in him that I was scared. It had taken years before I realized that I called him because he was the kindest person I knew. He always had a calm understanding voice and a way of explaining things that made you feel like you could confide in him and he would make things better.
There was a time when I was not performing well at work, so Scott politely and calmly told me to get it together or else, but not in those words. Everything Scott told me I took to heart. I knew he wouldn’t give me bad advice or tell me something that wasn’t true. If I wrote a crappy column, he said to that I could do better. If I wrote an excellent column, he told me it was good, but I could do better. He pushed me until the end to do my best and give it my all. Scott and Jason have taught me more than I could ever have imagined and neither of them has ever complained about my missteps or questions. I’ve got a great education from two of the best in the game, and I know that is a blessing.
I worked with Scott in the office for four years before he retired. He would listen to stories about Alex, my nieces, and movies with a smile on his face. I imagine it must have been brutal on days where it was just the two of us in the office, and I followed him around chatting non-stop. He never made me feel like I was an annoyance.-though I know I was.
Up until the end, Scott still encouraged me to do more, be more and learn more. His most significant gift was the ability to make you feel important in this world. I honestly felt important in this office and this job. That feeling of importance made me work harder. But in the last year, we became friends. We discussed books, movies, politics, and my family.
I never knew Scott as the brilliant writer winning awards or as the great gift to the community that he was for much of his life. However, the Scott I knew still very special to my family and me. He was still a great man and a great friend. Since his retirement, I have had several friends of his come in and tell me what Scott means to them. When he still worked here, he often had someone from the community at his desk at all hours of the day. He never turned anyone away in the four years we occupied the same office. He was always willing to listen and offer some words of wisdom, whether it be someone who wanted to write or someone who wanted him to tell their story. He listened wholeheartedly. When everyone was tired of hearing me bawl around about losing my dog last year, Scott listened and made me feel better about moving on and adopting my ornery little Hubbell. I wouldn’t have made that step without Scott. That little puppy that brings me more joy than I could have imagined is waiting for me at home with his little tail wagging like a helicopter propeller, thanks to Scott.
Scott also pleaded with me to listen to the Rolling Stones. Years ago I would listen to music in the office, mostly Paul Simon with some John Lennon with the Beatles sprinkled in. After months of him politely suggesting that I listen to Mick Jagger and the gang, I gave in. ‘Wild Horses’ is now one of my all-time favorite songs and one that will forever make me think of Scott Schock, and how important he was to my family and me.
I received my education from the Schock family and their legacy, the Falls City Journal. They'll always be the most exceptional teachers I've ever had. I am so proud to have learned the newspaper business from them and so proud I knew Scott for the short time I did.
Oh and the record Scott never laughed at the fact I wanted to be Al Gore’s speechwriter, he only laughed at my frustration when customers called me Sarah.