Happy 85th

March 27, 2015

Bill Hamel turns 85 today. For those of you outside of Central Illinois who don’t know, Bill worked 45 years at the Journal Gazette and later the Journal Gazette/Times-Courier, most as publisher. His father is a previous publisher, so his roots in the newspaper business run deep. I worked with Bill from 1983, when I graduated from college, until his retirement about 14 years ago. Every day Bill acknowledged every person in the building. He was always upbeat. If he was having a bad day, he left that mood in his office. Bill loved writing his column. He enjoyed being part of Mattoon and the surrounding area. From JD’s Health Club, to a seat at Fat Albert’s, to lunch at the Rebel Room of the U.S. Grant to morning coffee sessions, you found Bill around town. He frequently brought a good story idea back from his travel within the community. When a big issue was brewing, he knew about it well before it hit any agenda. The strategic plan for many newspapers in those days was live in, be part of and serve your community, and the rest will take care of itself. If it was going on in Mattoon, Bill wanted it in the paper. The newspaper was a reflection of and part of the community. Bill was active in many things. The newspaper was part of most everything. You wouldn’t think of having a reception, a fundraiser, an auction, a garage sale, really much of anything before it was in the Journal Gazette. Bill is an ultimate people person. He couldn’t get around town without people from varied walks of life stopping him. Just last week, in visiting with a shut-in from church, I was asked about Bill Hamel. Often, we don’t appreciate enough the good things and people around us. Bill Hamel is a treasure of a person. I send him all the best.

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