By Mike Steely

I’ve just had my 73rd birthday and I’ve been thinking back on my life and thanking my wife Lettie for putting up with me since 1966, my sons and grandchildren for adding happiness and responsibility to my life, and all the friends I’ve had over those long years.

I’ve lived through the terms of 13 U.S. presidents, probably lived more than 20 places around the country, did my duty in the U.S. Coast Guard, worked on newspapers, magazines, and briefly in radio advertising. I’ve published one book of historic treasures and inspired one children’s book.

I’ve known media people, elected officials, candidates, and was vice chairman for Jimmy Carter’s Tennessee Campaign. We’ve lived in North Carolina, Washington D.C., Tennessee, Kentucky, California and Louisiana. Every time I had an opportunity for a position I wanted I took it.

For the past 23 years we’ve lived in Knoxville. I’m fairly healthy for an old man with most of the ailments that elderly people begin to get, but thankful that I’m still up and around in the community and very thankful that Knoxville Focus Publisher Steve Hunley asked me if I wanted to be a reporter again several years ago. Having worked on two daily newspapers and community weekly papers I have a traditional and rational approach to news.

I don’t always agree with Steve but he’s been a very faithful publisher and doesn’t alter what I report. His leeway with me has helped me cover just about anything I want plus those meetings he wants covered.

Over my years in media I’ve received many awards and lots of recognition. I appreciate every award I’ve ever received, including a Tennessee Press Association First Place nod many years ago and the recognition I got for History in Media from the East Tennessee Historical Society.

I’ve been blessed with many old friends, some newer friends, cooperative officials, and people who are open to be interviewed. Not all stories are happy and not all are sad. It’s the old approach to telling a story for readers and, I’m told, they really appreciate my straight news approach.

My real joy in my position is telling “A Day Away” stories about places our readers can take their families to that are free or inexpensive places and are unusual, historic or simply fun to visit.

My “Getting to Know” stories have received lots of attention and I like going beyond a person’s public face to tell a bit more about them.

I’m hoping for several more years to bring you, the readers, the local news in a fair and informational way. Thank you for reading The Knoxville Focus.