When Brian Lawrence stepped into my office earlier this month to give me his notice, I was not surprised. It wasn’t something that I had inside information about, nor something I was happy to hear. But change is important to the way we manage our lives. I have no envy for people who settle into a career straight out of high school and then begin counting down the days until they retire.
Brian was working as a reporter here at the Advance when I first met him. He had relocated from Nelson, where he was raised, and done some work for the Nelson Daily News. I returned after 12 years away from the paper to fill in while the editor at that time took a year’s parental leave. They had been unable to find a suitable candidate for a one-year term, and called to see if I would consider it. Brian was to become the temporary editor and I was asked to do reporting and photography — much the same work that I was originally hired for back in 1979 after I completed the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology journalism program in Calgary.
We immediately formed an excellent working relationship and the communication between us was comfortable and co-operative. When I completed my yearlong re-entry to the newspaper business I knew I would miss the work, but also the friendship that we had developed.
One thing led to another, though, and soon I was back on the job, once again as a reporter. It wasn’t long, though, before I took on the role as publisher, and it was in that seat that my relationship with Brian took an unusual turn. For more than a decade afterward it was a source of amusement to my superiors that as publisher, Brian was directly responsible to me, but in my role as a reporter, I was responsible to him. We are quite certain that this quirky chain of command was unique in the country.
Quirky as it has been, though, it has worked remarkably well. From the get-go, I respected Brian’s abilities and judgment. He is, like the others in this current team at the Advance, completely reliable and at all times professional. It is a great joy to know that an employee has a genuine commitment to his or her work, and to the greater community. As Brian became more and more involved with Footlighters, taking on ever-increasing responsibilities, I came to admire him even more. His passion for taking on a job and doing it well has served the Creston Valley well during his 13 years since relocating from Nelson and I am pleased that, while he is leaving his job here, he plans to remain in our community.
It does seem to me an odd coincidence, that number 13. It was after 13 years here at the Advance, during which I moved from the editorial side of the business to become the advertising manager, that I made a career change that took me on different directions from 1992-2004. Since the birth of our first son on a Friday the 13th I have always considered 13 to be a lucky number. Looking back, I have no regrets about having left the Advance in my 13th year — it gave me opportunities to grow and expand my own base of experiences, just as I know Brian’s moving on will allow him the same.
When he told me that he was resigning his position, it was an emotional few moments, and I think in some way he thought he might be letting me down at a time when my own retirement is only a few years away. But while I could foresee the inevitable inconvenience of replacing a key employee, I couldn’t begrudge him his own desires for new challenges. He will do a marvelous job of whatever he takes on in the coming years, as he always has done for the Advance.
So this week we bid a fond farewell to Brian Lawrence and welcome Chris Brauer to the newly created position of news co-ordinator. Chris was just the sort of candidate I had hoped to find when I advertised the position. He is bright and experienced and, even more importantly, he is passionate about his community. He has left his job as a Homelinks teacher, where I know how much he was liked by parents and students, to pursue a master’s degree while living in Creston with his family. I am pleased that his work at the Advance will allow him to pursue his studies.
Change is not always easy, but it is often good for all concerned.
Lorne Eckersley is the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance.