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JESS WILLIAMS

To quote Buffett, ‘If the phone doesn’t ring, it’s me’

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My favorite song is “Come Monday,” by Jimmy Buffett. It’s a love song, but it’s also a personal mantra that a new day is always coming, and if you’re down today, the new day will likely be better: “Come Monday, it’ll be all right.”

Come Monday, I’ll be retired again. Bulletin Publisher (and longtime friend) Richard Coltharp lured me out of my first retirement in December 2019, when he asked me to join The Bulletin team. I was a tad reluctant, but I took the gig and quickly got into the groove.

Editing The Bulletin was full circle for me, having edited a string of other newspapers in the 1980s and 90s, before coming home to Las Cruces in 1995 to earn my master’s degree. During that time, I taught at NMSU and tended bar at My Brother’s Place. Shortly after graduating, I took a job at the county in 1998 and stayed there nearly 21 years.

Getting back into newspapering felt right after the initial adjustment. The team is a great one, with talented, funny and passionate folks seated at every desk in the building. I thought, “Well, I could see myself doing this for a while.”

I was still spoiling my granddaughters on weekends and playing golf every few weeks. Richard was cool with me bringing my Sancho Panza – Toby, my aging Yorkshire terrier – into the office most days. I could feel the ink pulsing through my veins again, and I felt of use to the community. Life was good.

Then came COVID-19. As a lifelong asthmatic whose battles with pneumonia have been harrowing, I was particularly respectful of the implications of contracting the virus. So, I went into lockdown. On March 14, 2020, I left the busy, buzzing office for the last time and set up shop in a makeshift corner of the living room at home.

Like so many others, I had to learn to work remotely, and it was complicated by the fact that my home system is Apple, and I was communicating with a PC network. There were hiccups, but for the most part, the transition worked seamlessly. Email was how we conducted most communications, with only an occasional telephone call.

A naturally social animal, I came to be grateful for the hours spent writing for and editing The Bulletin rather than pacing the cage that had become my home. I learned a new normal of FaceTiming with family and friends during evenings and weekends.

This went on for most of a year. When the vaccine development was looking really promising in January, I looked at my options and gave my notice to Richard, telling him March 31 would be my last day. Here we are.

I want to thank everyone at The Bulletin and in the community who shared their kindnesses, stories, laughter and wisdom along this 15-month journey. I’m honored to have been along with you for the ride.

I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine March 5. My son and his wife got theirs even sooner. We have let the required wait times lapse, and soon, I’ll be playing with my granddaughters again. Come Monday, it’ll be all right.

Jess Williams served as editor of The Las Cruces Bulletin from Dec. 18, 2019 to March 31, 2021. He listens to a lot of Jimmy Buffett.

Jess Williams