I entered the publishing world the day after my 18th birthday, fell passionately in love with it and have never left.
I was hired at the in 1997 as receptionist and after two years I transferred back to the composition department where I spent a decade designing ads, page layouts and taking photographs for the newspaper. After that amount of time, co-workers become family and Rick Rockman, Sr. was no exception. He passed away today, undoubtedly leaving behind a monumental mark in the history of the Fenton community.
“Senior," as most of us at the office referred to him, had a tough and opinionated exterior but also had a soft side.
I loved to catch him off guard and make him smile.
One time he told me, “I’m going to get a haircut.”
I asked him “which one?”
He smiled, shook his head and walked away.
While he was not technology-gifted, he mastered typing up his columns and sending email.Though every now and then he would call me up to his office and say, “Do that thing where it stays.”
"You mean save it?”
“Yes, do that."
Many times I would walk into the kitchen and he would be heating up his soup — if you told him it looked delicious, he would reply, “you can’t have any.”
Senior lived in Florida for the colder months and every spring, a week before his arrival home, you would find the Tri-County Times staff assuring the office was in tip-top shape to welcome him home.
He wrote a column called “Straight from the Shoulder” which was filled with strong views about local and national politics, current events and a lot of lawyer jokes. The columns often stirred controversy with local residents and if that is all you knew of him, I can understand how you might have imagined him as the abrasive type.
However, he had a great sense of humor and cared very much for those around him. Even though my liberal opinions sometimes clashed with his, I respected him very much for being able to speak his mind without hesitation of what others might think.
He was passionate about Fenton and newspaper industry and made it a family affair, both literally and making his employees feel like they were also a part of the family. You knew he meant business, but also knew he loved his staff and saw them as more than just employees.
I grew up at the Tri-County Times and gained experience there which will last a lifetime.
Thank you, Senior, for the impact you had on my life, you will be greatly missed by friends, family and employees — past and present.