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Hunsberger took time to make a difference

As I See It

During the first five months of 2004, death claimed the lives of three close personal friends. With the death of Bill Hunsberger on June 13th, I have lost another friend this year.

Bill, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper business, was publisher of The Clarion-Ledger at the time of his death at age 55. His death, the result of an apparent heart attack, was a shock to me both because of his age and his seeming good health. Since Bill was a year younger than I am, his death was a mortality wake-up call for me personally.

Six months or so ago I asked Bill to meet with some Russian journalists who were studying the newspaper business here. Bill was so gracious that he took off several hours and gave the Russians a complete tour of the Ledger’s operation and patiently answered all of their questions. Quite an investment for the publisher of a major daily newspaper, but Bill was the kind of person who always tried to make things better for everyone.

Active in the community

Bill actively served on a number of nonprofit boards, and since our interests were similar, we frequently attended meetings together. He was instrumental in resurrecting the Mississippi chapter of the National Council for Economic Education. Our state chapter had passed out of existence some years ago and we were one of the very few states that did not have one. Bill provided us the use of the newspaper’s board room and even gave us lunch on several occasions. What a guy! Bill and I also served on the Junior Achievement (JA) and the Mississippi Press Association Education Foundation boards of directors. He was slated to become president of JA on July 1, 2005.

Looking forward to…

Since I have always been somewhat self-employed, and Bill was a longtime employee of Gannett, a huge publishing company, our professional lives were somewhat different. My career has allowed me a great deal of flexibility in arranging my life, whereas Bill was subject to more stringent work-related demands. He had a list of things he wanted to do after retirement, whereas I really don’t have that kind of list.

By contrast, Bill talked of going out onto a bay in his native Florida and just sitting there at anchor; relaxing and watching the world go by. I, on the other hand, intend to work until I can no longer curl my fingers over a keyboard. I’m sorry that he was not able to fulfill that dream of a peaceful retirement.

Making things better for others

It is my simplistic way of analyzing life to divide things into neat groups and try and fit everyone and everything into one group or the other. Accordingly, I divide people into those who try to make things better and those who are principally concerned about themselves. Bill Hunsberger was clearly driven to make things better for all those around him. That is the highest accolade that I can offer and a lofty goal for all of us to aspire to.

The Mississippi Business Journal joins with Bill’s family, friends and professional associates in mourning his death and the attendant loss to our community.

Thought for the Moment — For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:38

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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