I received my education in Payson.
I didn't go to high school or college here. In fact, I moved here when I was 25 years old.
But the lessons I learned from past employers, local service organizations and the friends I've made in the Rim country will carry me for a lifetime.
As a young man, the Payson Jaycees gave me an invaluable education in leadership and organization -- skills that helped take our fledgling chapter to one of the best in the nation.
From the Jaycees, I moved on to the Rim Country Hospice Foundation, where I learned the value of working toward a common goal. After a decade of planning, fund-raising, and blood, sweat and tears, the foundation finally opened the doors on its world-class hospice house last summer.
Scott Smith and Brenda Martell taught me to take chances. They encouraged me to apply for a job at the newspaper with no other qualifications than a love of writing.
At the Roundup, editor Carolyn Dryer took a chance on me. And within the first few months of becoming a cub reporter, she taught me that once you get ink in your blood, you're hooked for life. There is no cure, there is no antidote.
Editor Brian Beck taught me design. He had a real eye for laying out pages, and I believe he passed on some of that talent to me.
Katy Whitehouse, one of my closest friends, taught me the value of teamwork. As editor, she didn't lead as a dictator, she guided her crew as a compatriot, working toward a common goal: to put out an award-winning newspaper.
Richard Haddad, the man who stuck it out longer than any other publisher I've had, taught me the value of commitment. He has dedicated his life to this newspaper and to this community, and has nothing but the best interests of both at heart.
You, the reader, also had a hand in my education. You never once let me get away with an error in a story; you never hesitated to call, write, e-mail or stop me in the middle of the grocery store with suggestions, complaints or compliments, and you reward the efforts of my crew with each edition of the Roundup you purchase.
In the past six months, I've also been reminded of the importance of family. I lost a dear friend -- my second mother -- in December.
In April, I lost my own mother -- the woman who taught me unconditional love, joy, compassion and equanimity.
I had planned on moving to New England for several months -- long before my mom got sick. Now, more than ever, I need to be closer to my family.
It's time. I've been out here on my own long enough -- the last Thebado to move east. After 15 years of telling the stories of your Rim country lives, I will be leaving the Roundup in mid-July.
In New England, my dad, brother, sisters and their families are awaiting my relocation, as we all begin new chapters in our lives.
One thing that comforts me is that I was able to tell Mom before she died that I was moving east. She was elated by the news, and even though I think she knew her time on earth was running out, she promised to help me find my dream home on the beach.
I think, somehow, she still will.
Goodbye, Payson. Thanks for the education. It was better than any university could provide.