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Hello Hillsboro. I’m back.

John Schrag, publisher of the Hillsboro Tribune, recently invited me to contribute an occasional column. My answer was short. It was three letters, not two — yes. I told him I would be honored to join the Tribune as a contributor and thrilled to write again.

For those who have no idea who I am — and there are many, I’m sure — here is some background.

After graduating from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, my first forays into the newspaper business were with community newspapers in Illinois. I worked for about a year each as a sports editor at the Oswego Ledger, managing editor of the Batavia Herald and a partner in a startup newspaper we called The Sentinel.

Cash flow was slow at The Sentinel. After paying our bills, there was little left for me and my partner. After about nine months in that venture some very exciting news came my way, courtesy of my wife. We were going to have a baby. With my first son well on his way, a mortgage to pay and food to buy — soon to include Gerber’s — I relinquished my portion of the partnership and pursued a job with a regular income.

That job was as a sports writer at the Aurora Beacon News, a mid-sized daily just outside Chicago. I spent the next 25 years covering every sport imaginable at every level imaginable, from rodeo events and Major League Baseball to championship boxing matches in Chicago. I eventually became the featured sports columnist, writing four general sports columns a week and a fifth as the outdoor editor.

Falling in love with the Pacific Northwest after several trips here, Aurora was soon in my rear view mirror with my headlights aimed at Oregon. My first year I worked as a sports stringer for The Oregonian and full time at a call center, all while looking for a steady newspaper job.

A break came my way when Dick McKinney, long time sports writer for the Hillsboro Argus, decided to retire. I was hired to replace McKinney and did so for six months. In 2002 Managing Editor Val Hess retired and I was fortunate to become managing editor of the Argus, which I was for 11 years, retiring in January of this year.

I am now a full-fledge Oregonian, or at least a comfortable Oregonian. I know this because half a dozen years ago I began to leave the umbrella at home to collect dust.

I’ve been fortunate along the way to have some strong editorial influences, the first being Dale “the Whale” Lancaster. Dale was a featured columnist at the Beacon News and the only sports writer outside Chicago allowed in the Baseball Writers Association (giving him a vote for yearly awards and a ballot to help decide entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame). He was affectionately nicknamed because of his 300-plus pounds and a bellowing voice that would cause animals on the Serengeti to think the lion is no longer the king of beasts.

Dale bellowed at me on occasion, but only to teach me. He taught me to write truth, give managers and coaches time to cool off after a tough loss and look for the perfect angle on a story.

Jerome Holtzman, Chicago sports writer and author of the book “No Cheering in the Press Box,” also sent knowledge my way. He told me not to be afraid of being critical of a manager, player or owner, but to always look them in the eye the next day. Criticism based on fact will always win out, he said.

Bryan Noonan, my first editor, bruised my ego while editing my first game story by asking me if I was taught about the five Ws and H (who, what, why, when and where, and how) in journalism school. I was so caught up in writing a good, punchy lead to the story, I neglected to include the score of the game.

Those of you familiar with columns that appeared regularly in the Argus know I am a storyteller, writing one on one with you (singular) the reader. My humorous stories are from personal experiences involving everyday life that a reader might identify with.

Many of my columns deal with relationships, in particular husband and wife relationships. While it might appear that my adorable wife is a target in my story crosshairs, it is her ruggedly handsome husband who is the real target.

I’ll also write about Hillsboro and its wonderful personalities. I’m looking forward to chatting with you again, soon.

Gary Stutzman can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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