I am on vacation — and I’m not coming back.

Twenty-seven days from today, after more than a half century in this business, I will, with little ceremony, lay down the quill, and become a ordinary citizen of Claremore — one without a 25,000 gallon tank of ink.

After nearly 58 years in and around the newspaper business, more than 40 of those as an Oklahoma publisher and half of those at the Claremore Progress, my retirement will become effective the last day of December.

My immediate plans will be to make some plans. First, I will — weather permitting — sit on my deck with a large cup of coffee and try to figure out what in the pretty blue-eyed world I’m going to do with so much free time on my hands.

It is my sincere hope that over the years my relationship with the people and the governments of Claremore and the county have been mostly positive. Throughout my adventure as pundit-at-large in Claremore, my basic purpose has been to foster progress, to build our communities, and to promote harmony, dignity and integrity. To strive for less would be unworthy of a community newspaper.

Probably more than half of our readers have disagreed with me on more than half of my opinions, but I have always presented my viewpoints as just that — one man’s opinion. While I concede that I may have been wrong on occasion, I like to think that when I have been wrong, it has been for the right reason.

The only thing I have ever really wanted for Claremore and our county, is the best of all things. I pledge to continue to contribute as much as I can toward that goal.

Claremore now stands on the brink of an economic explosion. In my opinion, the town is blessed with professional management and a council that works with such a spirit of cooperation that success is ours to accept. These civic-minded men and women, who voluntarily donate their time and efforts to the awesome and burdensome responsibility of public service, need and deserve the support of all citizens.

In this, my final column, I extend my gratitude to all the people of Claremore and Rogers County for putting up with me for the last 20 years. When I think of being retired, I can see good news and bad news.

The good news is that I will not have to come to the newspaper building every morning. I will have more time for my family, and for volunteer work.

The bad news is that I will not get to come to the newspaper building every morning. To say that I will miss all of the good folks who work here is an understatement. I will think of them often, their hard work, their good humor — especially at quitting time — their concern, and their unyielding support. They have indeed added immeasureably to my life and to pleasures I have enjoyed in this job.

My wish for my successor, whomever he or she might be — and all of the Progress staff I leave behind — is that the Daily Progress, and the wonderful community it serves, be blessed with growth and prosperity.

Thanks, Claremore, for a great ride.