Ron Smith retires this week. In fact, his last print publication is in the mail. It's hard to imagine a Farm Press issue without his byline.
Since 1978, Ron has covered American agriculture for Farm Press. Can you imagine the countless interviews, photographs and articles written throughout his career? Or the technological advances he's witnessed, not only within agriculture but journalism as well? From a typewriter and snail mail to publishing an article within seconds, Ron has seen some change.
When Ron first began with Farm Press, he was associate editor of Southeast Farm Press, and in 1989, named the editor of Southern Turf Management. By 1999, he was editor of Southwest Farm Press and in 2017, promoted to content editor for the four Farm Press publications. Today, he is editor of Delta Farm Press. What a journey. What a legacy!
There are a few things I've learned about Ron Smith over the last three years. First, nobody knows Southwest agriculture and its producers, researchers and Extension specialists like Ron. He covered agriculture in this region for 18 years. People who were initially a news source have become lifelong friends.
It's rare that I visit a farm or attend a field day that someone doesn't ask about him. If they don't remember his name, which is unlikely, it doesn't matter. What they do remember is the time he spent on their farm, his genuineness and how well he told their story.
You can tell a lot about a person when you follow in their footsteps. The trust and respect Ron built in the Southwest has opened countless doors for me. And his love for people and fun has left behind some great stories, some of which can't be repeated!
Ron's gift of sarcasm is a personal favorite. I'm not sure he and I know how to relate without it. When Ron isn't making me laugh, he's making me a better writer. His mission? To teach me to say more with less or just say less. "Long sentences are good if they move from start to finish without any bumps." I've got some mountains to move.
Ron is an avid reader, never without a book. He'll tell you he loves words. He still uses a thesaurus and when an article is complete, examines each word to determine if it's necessary.
Following retirement, Ron will freelance for Farm Press. As he says, "I'm not dying." He's assured me he'll still be available to cut words and add commas. In the meantime, he'll be on the banks fishing or driving through the Tennessee mountains with his precious wife Pat or spending time with his grandkids making Bubba Cakes and cheering them on from the stands.
Congratulations, Ron Smith! Thank you for your kindness, legacy and even an occasional sting. We celebrate you and wish you the best!