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Tell Us Your Story

Who inspired you? Or who inspires you today?

We are exploring the subject of inspiration in this edition and we also would like to share your own stories of inspiration.

When you were starting out in insurance or financial advising, you had difficult days. Everybody did. You probably thought of quitting. Everybody did. Something got you on track to success. Or, more likely, somebody.

We would like you to tell us your story. We will even write it for you. Well, we will select folks who we will interview. Send us an email telling us a little about your story and you may be selected for a half-hour interview, and we’ll turn that into your story. This will start as a quarterly feature and we’ll see where it goes. If you tell us wonderful stories and people love reading them, we’ll keep the feature going and maybe even increase its frequency.

It’s all up to you. If you want to pass on the inspiration that someone gave to you, here is your chance.

Just thinking about this is an enriching exercise. I thought about who inspired me along the way and I was surprised by all the people who came to mind. In fact, remembering the many people I haven’t thought of for years reminded me of what they taught me.

Journalism used to be more religion than profession. Practitioners were believers, driven by the story, fueled by deadlines. Well, we had to have something to drive us because it sure wasn’t money.

Quite a motley crew when I look back at them. Newspapers attracted smart, misfit observers who tended to mutter wisecracks in meetings. The chuckle of ridicule, I believe, was the society’s handshake.

But they were motley in that they had their variations. The showboats, the plodders, the prosecutors, the defenders, the lovers, the haters, the crafters, the artists  — and then there was Dave Rossie.

Dave was a mix of many of those as the columnist for the Press & Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton, N.Y., where I did 13 years. He had many titles before he retired, but really, he was the voice we all wish we had.

He usually spoke for the powerless, giving them the strength of his words. When Dave covered something, it could not be ignored.

He won pretty much every journalism award that they gave out. That kind of thing was important to Gannett, the corporation that owns the paper, but it was probably of minor value to Dave. But I heard that he was upset that he did not win the Pulitzer Prize when he was a finalist one year. I had to be told he was not happy about it because, to me, he just looked like Dave doing his job like any other day.

That was the thing about him. He came to work and, without complaint or fuss, banged out a column that was great. I don’t remember any bad columns, just some that were not as great as others.

I didn’t know he had cancer until his hair started falling out and he lost weight. I don’t think he missed a day of work.

In those days, I went into his office to talk to him more often. Even though he wrote brilliantly and wore the customary gruff countenance of a newspaper guy, he was eminently approachable and seemed to love talking to anybody. Well, almost anybody. If he didn’t talk much to someone, it was because he didn’t want to talk to that person. He was too decent to be insulting. Not to the person’s face anyway.

But during those low cancer days, I would talk to him more often. I’d ask his advice. I’d solicit his stories from the old days, such as when he was a cops reporter and covered the great Mafia raid in Apalachin. I wanted to absorb as many moments I could have with him without being a pain in his butt. Although I think he liked having company during that period.

We never talked about his cancer. Then his hair grew back. All was well.                                                               

I went into his office less and less frequently. After all, many others wanted their Dave chats. He always seemed to have time even though he banged out several columns a week.

One day I went into his office to tell him I took a new job. We shook hands. I stood around long enough to be uncomfortable and then I left his office. I had told him it was great working with him, but I didn’t thank him. I regret that. Even though he would have barked, “For what?” I wish I had said it.

That was more than 15 years ago, but in difficult times, I still remember Dave’s aplomb and devotion to his craft. It’s all you really have.

So, your turn. Tell us who got you started and helped you along the way. Send an email to [email protected] and give us a sense of your story. The door’s open.

Steven A. Morelli is editor-in-chief for InsuranceNewsNet. He has more than 25 years of experience as a reporter and editor for newspapers, magazines and insurance periodicals. Steve may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @INNSteveM. [email protected].

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