Deborah Rose column: 'I will miss you all'

Deborah Rose

Deborah Rose

Deborah Rose / Hearst Connecticut Media

Stories are revealed in smiles and silence, behind tears and nervous giggles, beneath gruff exteriors and in gentle eyes.

They’re discovered at meetings, in casual conversations and can occur at the most unexpected times.

They can be told through words that evoke emotion and illustrated in photographs that catch the eye.

I believe each and every one of us has a story to share and each deserves to be told.

For the past 25 years, I have had the privilege of covering the stories of this community.

Now, I’m turning the tables. It is time for me to focus on my own story. I will leave my post at The Spectrum at the end of this month.

It has been the most rewarding privilege to work as a writer/photographer and eventually, the editor, for The Spectrum since its founding in 1998. The paper has been my home for the majority of my adult life and my entire career.

Over the years, I grew in the roles I held at the paper and worked alongside some of the best mentors in local journalism. The experience has been most valuable.

As the only remaining original Spectrum staff member, and a New Milford native, making the decision to leave has been humbling. Letting go of something I have nurtured since its beginning comes with deep reflection. It’s as if I am saying goodbye to a piece of my heart.

But, I will take with me many happy memories and positive experiences of the time I spent covering the Greater New Milford area, as well as one my most treasured books that bursts with the cards and feedback I have received — and kept — from you over the years.

I’ve been documenting the life of this community since my journalism career began at the former New Milford Times, first as a freelance photographer, and later as a staff member of the editorial department.

Then, in 1998, the local daily paper, The News-Times, wanted to start a new weekly publication, The Greater New Milford Spectrum, and I was invited to come aboard.

I embraced the chance to be part of a new project and do what I love most — write and take photographs — alongside three of my then-colleagues, veteran journalists Art and Norm Cummings and reporter/writer Lynda Wellman.

My career has been extraordinary since day one, replete with creative opportunities, new friendships, and passionate writing and photojournalism, topped off with years’ worth of journalism awards for writing and photography, and a prestigious company award.

The people I have met — many of you who have become friends — the opportunity to do what I love, and the career achievements have been most rewarding.

I’m honored to have gotten to know all of those of you I have, and to have communicated with those I don’t know through words and photos year after year. I will miss you all.

Together, we have shared experiences — some ordinary, many joyful and others sad — and even laughed and cried together at interviews, events, and office visits.

I’ve watched your children grow up, having photographed them on their first day of kindergarten, then at their promotion ceremony for middle school and finally at their senior prom.

I’ve bid farewell to and written tribute stories for community leaders, consoled grieving families submitting obituaries, and listened as families shared memories of their loved ones lost in tragic accidents.

I’ve written about new pastors, business openings, college sweethearts who reunited 50 years later and married, residents who needed heart and kidney transplants, business and church anniversaries and other milestones, fundraisers and numerous feature stories about the people and happenings that make this community so rich with character and life.

I’ve attended and photographed too many fairs, festivals, library programs, chocolate festivals, fundraisers and Girl Scout Sweetheart dances to count, and loved every minute of each event.

I’ve coordinated, written stories and taken photographs for special sections — among them, the Chamber of Commerce Business Quarterly and the former New Milford Outdoor Art Festival — and processed and formatted bus routes, back-to-school and end-of-school lists year after year.

I’ve been a guest reader and presented journalism talks in schools and mentored students in the newsroom.

And, I’ve shared important parts of my life and views about happenings in the community, as well as advocated and supported various causes in this column, By Any Other Name, since The Spectrum began.

Throughout it all, two things stand out as the most special gifts: The relationships I established with you, the readers, as shared through words and photographs — even though I don’t personally know the majority of you — and the trust and respect you have for me to share your thoughts, feelings and stories so I can translate them accurately and honestly for publication.

For that, I am most grateful. Thank you.

Each and every one of you have welcomed me into your life in one way or another — either by sharing your story, inviting me to cover an event, by picking up the newspaper and reading it, or even calling the office to share a concern — and have reminded me of how valuable we are, not just as individuals, but as a community.

We need one another.

A community is about being connected to others and experiencing a feeling of fellowship. We can achieve these through relationships with our family and friends, as well as through connections with our neighbors, our town and business leaders, and even those individuals we don’t know but pass on the street, and those we read about in the local media.

In a thriving community, it’s people really see, and respect and care for one another, even when we might disagree.

New Milford and the surrounding towns thrive. They are special places to live, work, play and visit. And they are that way because of you.

You are the heartbeat of this community, and it beats strong.

The Greater New Milford area, in particular, New Milford, has been home to my family since the 1940s.

And, for the span of the last 50 years, three family members — myself and my two uncles, the Cummings brothers — were dedicated to community journalism.

I’m proud of that and the legacy we, and other family members, have carved in our various roles in the community’s past and present.

My heart is full as the chapter of my life and career at The Spectrum comes to a close.

It’s been an honor to document the character and life of this community for the past two-plus decades.

And I am most proud to call you, my neighbors, friends.

Deborah Rose is a lifelong New Milford resident who has worked at The Spectrum since its inception in 1998. She can be reached by email at drose@newstimes.com or drosect1707@gmail.com.