Don’t let February stand alone in sharing the love

Published 4:24 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2023

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In a month that includes a single day set aside for love and admiration, I guess it’s only fitting to single out those who gave me the courage and inspiration to tackle a career as a newspaperman.

First and foremost, I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents – Ray and Blanche Bryant. I am a creation of their flesh. They made sacrifices to ensure I enjoyed a better life than they had. They fed me, clothed me, nurtured me, picked me up when I was battered and bruised, healed my broken heart, and laughed and cried alongside me. They showed me what love of family is all about. They took me to church; sent me to school, paid for my college education, and served as the rock, the foundation on which I built my life as a husband, a father, and my chosen career path.

I was also fortunate to share the love of family with my sister, Cindy, and my brother, Tommy, as well as uncles, aunts, and cousins who proudly carried the Bryant, Futrell, Joyner, and Johnson surnames.

And when Cindy and Tommy later married their spouses, it marked the beginning of a love affair with the Vinson and Martin families….strong bonds that still remain intact today despite the deaths of Cindy and her husband, Rock (Robert).

In the latter stages of the 1970’s, my life took a major turn when I fell in love with my soulmate. Deborah and I were married in 1979, at which time I gained another family with the addition of loving and supportive in-laws, Louis and Mamie Vann. I also gained two wonderful sisters-in-law and their families.

When I say I’m the luckiest man on the planet, that’s a major understatement! It’s extremely rare to find a spouse who will tolerate having to share their loved one with someone else. Deborah has put up with my long hours at work, which often consume 60 or more hours per week. She has never complained and is my biggest supporter. She knows there is “another woman” in my life by the name of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. I’m hopeful that Deborah realizes that the success I’ve enjoyed as an award-winning journalist has more to do with her being the “rock” of our household.

In 1985, I fell head-over-heels in love again…this time on a hot summer night in late July when I first laid my eyes on my daughter, Danielle Rae Bryant. It was at that moment where I realized the importance of the roles my parents played in preparing me to deal with becoming a father. There was no need to search inside Danielle’s hospital-issued crib for instructions on what to do next….raising a child comes from the advice and love passed down from the previous generation.

Danielle felt the same thing 26 years later when her son, Brody Ray Harrell, entered the world at precisely 8 am on Nov. 19, 2013. Becoming a grandparent for the first time introduced me to a whole new level of love, which is made more special by the simple fact that you can spoil them rotten and then send them home to their parents…just like my mom and dad did with Danielle!

And then there’s the love and admiration of another important family….one lacking in bloodline, but yet one that most adults spend a majority of their waking hours sharing the same space.

My work family is important. Like your parents/spouse/children, those with whom you share a workspace become your family. You care for them on a personal basis….you rejoice in their triumphs, your heart is heavy when life throws them a curveball.

When you build trust among your co-workers, it strengthens the success of your business. You have their backs, and they have yours.

To that end, I’m thankful each and every weekday (and occasional weekend) when I bid good morning and good night to Holly Taylor, Judy Farmer, and Anna Phipps. We may be small in number with a large area to cover, but we get the job done. How do we know that? Simple…we publish and circulate over 10,000 newspapers a week while our website regularly attracts in excess of 5,000 views per day.

While newspapers, across the board, have experienced a few bumps in the road, we remain committed to bringing our readers accurate and informative articles, void of bias. Our newspapers and websites are the best sources of news and information in the communities we serve and command top audience market share. More than 7 out of 10 consumers report regularly reading our newspapers and websites. More than 6 out of 10 say they use those products to make purchase decisions. Simply put, our products ring doorbells, cash registers, inboxes, and telephones for our customers.

I’ve been fortunate to learn my job from men and women who, as we say in our business, “have ink in their blood.” I credit John Powell, the man who first hired me when I was a “wet-behind-the-ears” sophomore at Chowan College, and Gilbert Vaughan (our Plant Manager back in the day) for teaching more about newspaper production than I could even learn from a book. Ditto for Larry Howell for sharing his deep knowledge of photography. The skills I learned from him remain intact today.

Later, I found a new life in newspaper work….that of becoming a writer. Four women became my mentors and shaped me into what I am today….Ramona Goode, Laura Harrell, Jeanette White, and Jennifer Moore. I’ve been fortunate enough over the years to have earned numerous NC Press Association awards….those women are the reason why.

There are so many talented editors and publishers who have shaped my career over the past several decades. I’m scared to mention any names in fear of missing someone important, but I will close this column by signaling out one man in particular.

Last week, just a few hours shy of Valentine’s Day, Jim Boone passed away at the age of 87. He was the founder and chairman of Boone Newsmedia, our parent company based in Alabama.

Mr. Boone was very supportive of my promotion to Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications in 2015. He would often contact me with words of congratulations when an honor came my way or words of advice and encouragement when we were tackling an important project. He was like that with so many individuals within and outside our business.

Sharing love, admiration, and support needs to be at the top of our daily “to-do” list. The calendar doesn’t have to be on February to make that happen.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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