To paraphrase Harper Lee, “You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family.”

Over the past 37 years, I’ve had the pleasure of proving that statement wrong. I am part of a wonderful extended family chosen by me: The employees, advertisers, and most importantly the readers of my beloved ADJ.

That comes to an end today.

This ride started on a pony, more specifically “Misty of Chincoteague,” a book my parents gave me when I was nine or 10.

I was enamored by the story of Paul and Maureen, the spirited Phantom and the mischievous Misty. But I was just as fascinated by the author, Marguerite Henry, and her ability to spin an entertaining tale from a few true facts. What a gig.

I’ve always been interested in....well...everything and I loved the idea of parlaying that curiosity into a career.

I still do. Along the way, I have attended the best horse races in the world and poked around some of the most intriguing Hidden Places of northern Wisconsin and occasionally farther afield. I have visited with the makers of news both good and bad, cried with communities stricken by tragedies  and rejoiced with them at their successes.

I have worked with the finest in the business, starting with Fred and Marie and Gene Legro—the best writer I have ever known and the most severe taskmaster—continuing with Vern, “VJC” to me, Debbie and Laura, and now Scott, Brandon and Rachel. True professionals.

Not to forget  the dozens of others: Susie, Kay, Al, the Denises, my cherished Charlie and Betty, Wendy, Debbie, Tara...and too many more too list lest I forget someone.

Some days have been easy, even joyful, and others—such as the day Fred died in November—bleak. But we always got the job done and I’ve been honored and privileged to play a role in it,

It’s tough to give up and I am quite frankly ambivalent. 

But the pony has gotten a bit leg-weary and it’s time to give her a rest. Another pithy quote, this one from a tee shirt, comes to mind: “The lake is calling and I must go.”

It is fashionable, in these days, to bandy around the term “ROI,” or return on investment. The Antigo Daily Journal has always sought to enhance that ROI, but for well over 100 years it has  been seen as an investment in our community and its people, not simply a fiscal bottom line. I hope that doesn’t change.

It is the nature of families to ebb and flow, to grow and decline, to move on and linger. I had the opportunity to choose mine—my Antigo Daily Journal crew—and it has reaped a lifetime of rewards.

For that, and so much more, thank you.

Lisa Haefs