NIEMANN: After 10 years, it's time to say goodbye

Posted: Dec. 31, 2012 9:15 am Updated: Jan. 28, 2013 10:15 am

This story is my last newspaper column. Seriously. I thought I'd sign off by telling you the story of how it all began and how the column grew.

What started as an idea in summer 2002 led to a column that made its debut in six newspapers the following January and eventually in more than 110 newspapers. It has been a great 10 years. Why stop now?

I could keep it going, but I'd rather focus on other things for a while.

A wise man once said that no one succeeds by going it alone. Actually, it was a friend of mine who said that, and he is only of average intelligence. Anyway, I want to acknowledge the people who have helped make this column possible because without their help and support this column would never have made it to the printing presses and into your home each week.

First, there was your Herald-Whig managing editor at the time, Mike Hilfrink. Mike and I met for lunch at the La Gondola restaurant one day back in 2002, when this column was nothing more than an idea in my head.

In addition to giving me the advice that I needed to start this column, Mike was also the first editor to initially reject it. His feedback was instrumental in getting this column off the ground. He told me that the idea for the column "did not have mass appeal." He was right, because the original version was going to be a how-to column for wannabe inventors.

I took his advice and redesigned the column so that the stories are about famous inventors rather than a how-to column. I began telling the stories in a style similar to that of Paul Harvey where you, the reader, get to figure out who the story is about. In 2007, I expanded the column to include stories about famous explorers, discovers, presidents, actors, athletes, etc.

Thanks, Mike.

Mike has since been promoted to executive editor and general manager, so it has been up to the current managing editor, Don Crim, to find a weekly column to replace this one.

For the first couple of years, I would write the column each week, then print it out and run it over to my parents to proofread it before sending it off to the editors. Since I had never taken a journalism course nor worked for a newspaper, my parents' advice, feedback and support were very important during those early years.

Thanks, Mom and Dad.

I got married in 2011. My bride, Melinda, has supported my efforts ever since our first date, when I told her that one of the things I do is write a syndicated newspaper column. Ironically, the date was at Ozzie Smith's Restaurant in St. Louis, and that restaurant has since closed down. Fortunately, Melinda and I are not superstitious.

Thanks, Sweetie.

And to you, the reader.

Many readers have told my parents how much they enjoy reading this column in The Herald-Whig each week. That always means a lot to me. Some readers have stopped me on the street or sent emails. Others just read the column without commenting on it. Either way, there would be no column without you.

Thank you.

What's ahead?

I had been running my own marketing and product development company, Market Launchers, as well as teaching some college courses, before I created this column. I will continue running my company, and I am also working in sales for a company in St. Louis, which is where Melinda and I now live.

Usually, you have to read all the way through to learn the ending of the story. This time, though, for this one final story, you already knew the ending as soon as you read the headline.

So, when will you see another one of these columns in the paper?

To quote Edgar Allan Poe: Nevermore.

It's been a great 10 years. Thank you.




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