Time to say farewell, and heartfelt thanks

Melodie Davis

© Bradley Striebig Photography

I have been stalling writing this editorial because it is hard to let Valley Living go. It has been a small publication but with a big vision to make our Valley and the world a better place by sharing good news and encouragement, especially in the realm of family living.

Print publications fall by the wayside every day, and many of those have had much bigger budgets and staffs and wider reach than this small magazine. So we do not consider this publication to have failed. In our times, digital communication is much cheaper, more far reaching, and taps more of the generation who are in the thick of raising their families today. But online, we would have an even harder time getting support from local advertisers, we surmise. I am sorry we have to say farewell to this community connection so many of you have enjoyed and supported by sending donations, buying ads, patronizing advertisers, subscribing to the paper, faithfully completing word search puzzles and sending them in—and often including your notes of support and sharing your favorite articles.

In 2016 we celebrated 25 years publishing this paper; I was along for the ride almost from the very beginning, first of all as just the local editor of the Shenandoah Valley edition. At one point this paper was published (some differing formats) in four communities in the eastern U.S. I became overall editor in 1992, when our daughters were turning 6, 9 and 11—when I was certainly in the middle of very busy parenting years. I took on the job because it allowed me to keep working part time at my main job (60-90 percent time), allowing me to work from home as editor. Indeed, our daughters all took their turns creating word search puzzles in their high school years, happy to earn the $25 pay (we are grateful for puzzle maker Jeanette Showalter who has compiled them for the last 15 years or so).

The vision for this paper had always been to grow it much larger, with more editions in more communities. When the last of the “other” editions had to close a few years ago, that was the beginning of the end for funding for our overall operation. Perhaps if I had been able to give it more time, or if we had been able to build a bigger support base, or … the “what ifs” are endless.

Know this: people who put a magazine or paper together which they love, work hard to make it the best they are able to do given budget, time, vision, skills and resources.

And in that regard, I feel super pleased to have worked with so many fine, fun and dedicated individuals over the last 27 years: Eugene Souder, founder and first editor and graphic designer of the original tabloid size; Laban Peachey, long time chair of the board; Eugene’s family members including his dear wife, Alice, and daughter Ann and son Paul; Richard Benner, the director for a number of years (who died last November). There were outstanding sales persons who kept us thriving and debt free for many years: from old timers John Kreider, Paul Yoder, and Ray Ressler, to our most recent representatives, Kay Kibler and Ivette Churney; we benefited from detail-oriented, efficient production managers Dorothy Hartman and Lindsey Shantz, and designers Shawn Snider and Mary Jo Veurink. Mary Jo created our most recent format in the smaller size. Some of our local columnists have been with us also almost from the beginning, especially Harvey Yoder; more recently Ken and Karen Gonyer, added great advice on family finances. We have had dozens of helpful board members over the years. From recent years I will name Jonas Borntrager and Trisha Blosser as tireless board presidents who volunteered countless hours to keep things running, with Jonas (and others) delivering the publication to countless newsstands. Many of you know and remember local writer Lauree Purcell who also volunteered her time, and Stephanie Hertzenberg worked as a yearlong (unpaid) intern. A special thank you to Christopher Clymer Kurtz who assisted us these past couple months. And I dare not forget my secret partner in crime for many years, Ann Yoder, (married to sales associate Paul), who called me with so many article leads and ideas. Freelance writers supplied the bulk of the articles many of whom were thrilled to be paid and published in Valley Living even though our checks were modest.

Finally, I need to thank my own family and especially husband Stuart, all of whom were always very supportive, even though the job sometimes took me away evenings or busy on weekends interviewing interesting people from this valley and sharing their stories. Thank you, one and all, who consented to have part of your family’s story told in these pages. Your stories and lives benefited and enriched the rest of us!

Melodie Davis, editor


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