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The Suburbanite
  • King's View, To This Year’s Graduates...

  • An open letter to this year’s college and high school graduates:

     

    Congratulations!


    It wasn’t easy by any means, but you’ve made it. You’ve arrived at the finish line.

    And for that, you’ve earned our heartfelt respect and admiration. We’re so very proud of you.

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  • An open letter to this year’s college and high school graduates:
     
    Congratulations!
    It wasn’t easy by any means, but you’ve made it. You’ve arrived at the finish line.
    And for that, you’ve earned our heartfelt respect and admiration. We’re so very proud of you.
    It is a signature moment in your lives. Celebrate it. Revel in it. You deserve to do so, and should, for if you don’t take time to smell the roses and enjoy the fruits of your labor, then you’ll tire of the journey.
    Life is, of course, a journey, and you’re just starting yours. It will be long and challenging, but also fun. Here’s to your success, which we’re sure will be bountiful and consistent as you go forward.
    Having had the distinct privilege of attending a number of academic awards ceremonies over the years, I am always amazed by the courses of college study, and careers, students pursue. Your mind power – and ambition, determination, organization and big-picture, forward-looking thinking – is nothing short of amazing.
    Go chase your dreams, and don’t let anyone dissuade you, or rain on your parade.
    But before you leave, please indulge me for a few minutes and allow me to introduce you to someone who had a profound influence on my life, and can – and I hope will – do the same on your lives.
    His name is – or was, he’s gone now – Chuck Heaton. I know you’ve never heard of him, but he was a tremendous sports writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer years ago. Even if you don’t like sports, please read on.
    He was the paper’s beat writer covering the Cleveland Browns for 24 years, 1954-77, after which he continued working for nearly a decade and a half longer, mostly doing sidebar stories on the team.
    He was known as the Jim Brown of beat writers. That meant he was the best. Brown, a running back for the Browns from 1957-65, is arguably the greatest player in football history.
    Heaton was so well-respected in pro football circles that the most powerful men in the game would gladly take his calls, and he could address them by their first names.
    Though we didn’t know each other at the time, there were many guys like me in Northeast Ohio who grew up wanting to cover the Browns when we got older. We wanted to be just like Chuck Heaton.
    And those of us who were lucky enough to realize that goal, had the rare honor of meeting and, better yet, even working with Heaton in his later years at the paper. What a treat.
    Page 2 of 2 - But the funny thing is, when we did get to know Chuck, we came to admire him even more for something far different than his acumen in writing intelligent, complete, fair and thought-provoking football stories.
    What really struck us – and has stayed with us and molded us as we went forward in our own careers – was what type of a person Chuck was. On our first day on the beat, as we timidly reported to practice, thrilled beyond words at the opportunity to cover the Browns but at the same time shaking in our boots at the enormity of it, there was Chuck, getting up out of his chair and coming over to warmly greet us and welcome us to the job.
    Like a bunch of school girls, we giggled under our breath when he introduced himself. He didn’t need to tell us who he was. If he only realized that we knew more about him than he knew about himself.
    But what we didn’t know about Chuck initially was how kind, considerate and respectful he was. He never big-timed us and dropped his reputation and legacy into our laps.
    Here was this giant of the industry – a writer’s writer, a true hall of famer if there ever was one – and yet he wasn’t too big to stoop down and help, and keep helping, little peons like us who were just getting started.
    Important people don’t need to tell you that they’re important. You just know it.
    It was a great lesson in humility, one that we’ve all made sure to pass on to fledgling writers when we became the older, veteran guys.
    So as you go on in your own careers, please remember the lesson left by the great Chuck Heaton. That is, when you become a big shot – and we all know you will – please don’t act like one.
    And if you adhere to that bit of advice, know that when your toils are done, your legacy will be two-fold. And the best part is that you will be remembered more for what you were, than for who you were.