On a hallway wall in the Payson Roundup offices hang 11 Arizona Newspaper of the Year awards, two National Best Non-Daily newspaper citations, two World West Achievement Awards and a U. S. Department of Agriculture Award of Merit.
I’m convinced most of those would not be there had it not been for the leadership and guidance of Jack Myers.
Heck, I’m not sure the Payson Roundup would be here if it wasn’t for Jack.
Jack died Oct. 14 just a few days short of his 86th birthday.
In the 1980s, Jack was the general manager of the Payson Roundup newspaper and was the man who hired me in 1986 as a part-time sports writer.
Jack guided the Roundup and its employees through some tumultuous years in which the staff was ridiculously small, job duties overwhelming, staff turnovers an everyday occurrence, salaries low and the competition with another local publication fierce.
Through all the trials, tribulations and challenges, Jack showed us the grit and determination it takes a small-town newspaper to survive and serve its readers well.
Looking back, I marvel how he kept employee spirits up and the paper running efficiently during such trying times.
My wife, Kay, was the advertising manager in those years, and she also fondly remembers Jack as a hard-working, dedicated supervisor who was the heart and soul of the Payson Roundup.
Jack was a no-nonsense, team player who demanded we pull together for a common goal — to make the newspaper the best it could be.
Kay reminded me of an incident in which Jack purchased cameras for the advertising salespeople, telling them to tote them along on their rounds to shoot any news events they saw occurring.
The paper wasn’t about separate advertising, news or production departments working as single entities — Jack asked for contributions from all.
I never liked the way he unceremoniously exited the newspaper, but he never complained, walking away proudly and with his head held high to open the highly popular Grumpy’s Donuts in Pine.
Even today, I don’t believe the former owners gave Jack his just due for his expert guidance and devotion to the paper.
To some, Jack portrayed a gruff demeanor, hence the nickname “Grumpy.”
But it was only a false image that, for some unknown reason, he seemed to enjoy perpetuating.
His brusque exterior was never more evident than in a black and white photograph that hung in our paste-up room.
One of our photographers snapped him in a cranky and cantankerous mood, then hung the picture for all to see.
The staff got plenty of good belly laughs from the picture, while teasing Jack that was the look he greeted us with each weekday morning.
In those days, the offices of the newspaper were very small — less than half the size they are now.
And there was only one bathroom, right next to my desk in the newsroom.
It seems Julie Haught and Jayne Peace, then newspaper employees, were so enamored with country and western singer George Strait’s good looks, they hung a life-size poster of him in our bathroom.
Employees couldn’t sit in the tiny bathroom without staring directly in the baby blue eyes of the famous troubadour.
One weekend, I was the only reporter in the office and, after using the commode, became a little weary of George witnessing my every bathroom move.
So, I grabbed a penknife and carved out George’s face, replacing it with Jack’s photo from the paste-up room.
I must admit, I did a pretty good job of fitting Jack’s picture onto George’s Wrangler-clad body.
The following Monday afternoon, Julie strolled into the bathroom and shut the door.
About 15 seconds later, I heard her scream, the door flew open and Julie darted out as if she’d just been serenaded by Hank Williams’ ghost
Of course, she and Jayne were aghast — deeply troubled might be a better description — that someone had dared to replace their beloved George with our scowling general manager
When confronted as the culprit, I denied performing such an evil act, even when Jack asked me.
I can’t remember if I ever confessed to him that I was the villain to stage the prank, but at the time I was pretty proud of chasing George out of the toilet.
I think Jack considered the dastardly deed hilarious, even though he managed to maintain his crusty outward show through it all.
For those of us who knew and worked with Jack, he had our utmost respect and admiration for what he did for us as individuals and for the Payson Roundup.
There’s little doubt, we are a better newspaper because of Jack.