Sunday, March 20, 2016

Dispatch reunion

I'd been anticipating this moment for a while, not quite sure that it was actually going to happen.

For several years, there'd been some talk — a lot of it from former publisher Joe Sink — of getting a Dispatch reunion put together. But that was it — mostly talk.

What a great turnout for the reunion.*
 Then, this past summer, while on a mini-vacation to Oak Island, former Dispatchers Neill Caldwell, my wife Kim (she'd worked there part-time) and myself (I'd worked there full-time) got together and, in the course of general conversation, resurrected the concept.

We made plans. We mentioned who we'd like to see again. Where do we have it? How do we contact people? Who pays for it? And, most importantly, who's going to organize it?

Memory falters, but I think Neill and Kim came up with the idea almost simultaneously: get Michelle to do it!

It was perfect. Michelle Moore, who was the former paginator at The Dispatch, could do anything. She'd designed the paper's pages. She's social. She knows people. She makes her own jewelry, for crying out loud. Most importantly, she wasn't with us on Oak Island to object. Neill immediately messaged her on his iPhone, and just as quickly, she agreed to do it. I guess that's serendipity.

Within days, Michelle had created a Facebook page for The Dispatch Reunion, and the wheels were suddenly in motion. Former and current employees were getting the word: meet at Yarborough's on March 19, pay for your own food and drinks from a special limited menu, and bring your memories.

Plus, we'd be able to celebrate Joe's 79th birthday.

A pretty good looking table right there... **
 Holy moley. Saturday arrived, and so did the guests. I think we had somewhere around 50 or 60 former employees show up, and with spouses, nearly 100 people filled the second-floor banquet hall.

At least six decades of Dispatch employees were represented (I personally spanned four of those decades).

Most of the evening was aimed at Joe. Several people rose to pay tribute, including former comptroller Wayne Brady, former ad representative Ron Wyatt and former sports editor/editor Larry Lyon. It was evident, by acclamation, that nobody ever had a better boss than The Dispatch employees who worked for Joe Sink.

I know we had five former sports guys on hand; there were also four former and current photographers; a bunch of newsroom reporter types, and a bushel of advertising and circulation folks.

So thanks to Neill and my wife for dreaming this up. And thanks to Michelle for putting it all together.

And thanks to Joe for being the reason to reunite in the first place. It was special.

 Joe Sink (left) with Anne Jackson Bullard and her husband.**

* Photo by Melissa Egelnick.
** Photo by Michelle Moore.


  1. I had a great evening at Yarbroughs restaurant last night's seeing old friends and reconnecting with former co workers. Celebrating Joe Sink's impact on the lives of so many of us at the beginning of our careers was a tribute to a boss like no other. The only thing that could have made the evening more complete would have been to have a few missing former co workers in attendance. Thanks to Michelle and facebook, lots of us came together one more time to share memories in a joyous celebration.

  2. Thank you Bruce for the kind words. And thank you Neill and Kim for the idea. It was a fun night. We are all fortunate people to have had the opportunity to work for Joe Sink. I for one know that I grew up at that place. We had some wonderful times and now we have great memories. And it was fun to recollect them last night.