Following in my uncle’s footsteps

By: 
Dennis Warden

It has been stated that the oldest profession is prostitution. But that is a misnomer. The oldest profession is actually sales. In the beginning it was the snake who sold Eve on the idea of eating the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden.

Like my father, sales is the profession I chose. 

It was my uncle Tom Warden who “toiled in the vineyard of words known as community newspapering.”

I started working at The Republican as head janitor when I was 12-years-old. So I guess you could say that ink runs in my veins.

After attending the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia and working five years at the Hannibal Courier-Post,  I returned to Owensville to sell advertising in 1987.

At one time I considered being a photojournalist but it didn’t take long to figure out that a photojournalist in a small community newspaper needed to have some skills with the written word. In high school English was my worst subject. 

One of my most useful high school graduation presents was a large Webster’s Dictionary (given to me by the employees of The Republican.) They knew it would come in handy in college.

 At that time, in 1978, stories were written on a typewriter. The only ‘spell check’ was the dictionary.

My gift is and has always been in the art of selling. So it has been in this “vineyard” that I have used my talents to help the family business.

I can remember my father, Don telling me in my 20’s that he would have been better off had he went to work for the U.S. Post Office. They have better working hours, better retirement and a lot less headaches. I didn’t listen. 

He has always been my hero. I have looked up to my dad and tried to be like him in every way. He is, and has always been my role model in life, in business and in my faith. 

It was on Oct. 1, 1965, that uncle Tom started writing his column, “Our Back Yard” for the Gasconade County Republican. I was 5-years-old. That column remained a large part of this publication until his retirement in early 2001. 

Tom’s final column, after over 44 years, was published on Feb. 21, 2001.

For a few months the “Best of Our Back Yard” appeared on this editorial page until Bob McKee, the managing editor, took over the reins and started his weekly column “Going South.”

Bob started working on the staff of The Republican in 1972 as reporter and photographer, moving on to news editor and managing editor.

That first column of Bob’s appeared on this page  on Sept. 12, 2001, just one day after terrorists flew planes into the world trade center in New York City and into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., forever changing life in the United States.

Bob retired as managing editor in January 2007 from The Republican, going south to his home in Bem. From there he continued to provide us with his wit and wisdom through his column “Going South,” until last week. 

After over 16 years and 852 columns I join everyone in thanking Bob for sharing his life and his stories with us. Bob may have grown up in Springfield, Mo., but the best part of his life has been here in Owensville/Bem where he has influenced us with the printed word.

Some of you may be aware that on Oct. 12, 2016, we started a second newspaper in our neighboring county called the Maries County Advocate. It was then that I went out on a limb, expanded my horizons and followed in my uncle’s footsteps with my own column, “A New Adventure.” It has been well received from readers of The Advocate.

Since that time, a few of those columns have appeared in The Republican. Many of you have relayed your approval when we met.

Thanks to the advent of spell check, one thing I don’t have to worry about is my spelling. Of course during the last 30 years my spelling has improved to where I consider myself a decent speller.

As far as writing is concerned, I will let you be the judge. 

I don’t kid myself. Both uncle Tom and Bob spent their lives communicating with the written word. I have a lot of catching up to do. 

I hope you’ll join me in this new adventure.

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