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OPINION COLUMNS

Eventful 2012 included several ‘happy returns’

By Roy J. Eaton | Published Saturday, December 29, 2012

To say that 2012 has been an eventful year for me would be an understatement.

Roy J. Eaton

First, as my wife says, I failed retirement. After almost four years loafing and fooling with my antique cars, I returned in September as publisher of the Messenger. It has been an absolute joy to be back working with this great staff, many of whom I had worked with side-by-side for more than 20 years.

The great staff kept the newspaper going despite the faltering economy and management changes. While I was away, the office supply division was sold to Joe Neil and Marianne Henderson so the hustle and bustle around here has been moved to their iCopy store. The quiet here is awesome.

But the happiest news came in the spring when our daughter-in-law, Felecia, was working on her family history through ancestry.com. I gave her my adoption papers from Hope Cottage in 1937, and she very quickly discovered I had three sisters and two brothers living in Minnesota. They never knew I existed.

In June we traveled to Minnesota to meet all of them, and it was delightful. My sisters plan to visit us in January and meet all of our family and we are excited to show them Decatur and Wise County. Hopefully my brothers will be able to visit in the spring.

Since their visit will coincide with the Fort Worth Stock Show, I plan to take them there and they also want to visit the site of the Kennedy assassination in Dallas.

My birth-mother lived in Hamilton when I was born. She was a registered nurse and went to Hope Cottage in Dallas and worked in a nearby maternity hospital until I was born. She was 27 at the time. My parents, Maurine and Virgil Eaton, adopted me in 1938 and took me to their farm home in Rhome, where I had a wonderful childhood.

After World War II my birth-mother married a soldier from Minnesota, and they made their farm home near Park Rapids. Ironically that is a half-hour away from our newspaper friends Mike and Jan Parta whom we had visited a few years ago.

My birth mother, Mila Mae Weeks, died in 1988. We got to visit the farm home where the children grew up and the cemetery where Mila Mae and her husband, Virgil Weeks are buried.

Another highlight of my year was our annual family vacation to Park Cities, Utah, just outside Salt Lake City. That area is the center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and we had an opportunity to visit many Mormon historic sites and even hear a rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Another great adventure occurred in October when our son Barry and I made our annual pilgrimage to Hershey, Pa. for the Antique Automobile Club of America’s annual fall meet. While there we discovered the Milton Hershey School for underprivileged boys and girls.

It is a fascinating place, with more than 195 group homes for kids and their house parents. The success rate of the school is phenomenal with more than 80 percent of last year’s graduates attending college, many of them with scholarships from Hershey.

2012 will go down in my memory as a wonderful year – and I hope yours has been as well.

We’ll see all of you in 2013 with what will be an even better community newspaper that serves Wise County. We will all work hard to make sure that happens.

Roy Eaton is publisher of the Wise County Messenger.

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