Times-Union's Ron Littlepage ends decades-long 'great ride'
Longtime columnist set to retire; final column will print Sunday
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An era is ending at Jacksonville's daily newspaper as columnist Ron Littlepage prepares to head off into the sunset of his retirement.
Littlepage has worked at The Florida Times-Union for 40 years -- 28 of them as a columnist.
He called it “a great ride” and “a privilege” being involved in community issues and having a voice to express opinions on some of the city's most polarizing topics.
“I've enjoyed it a lot,” he said Tuesday, as he discussed his career and why it's part of a columnist's job to get people talking.
“For a columnist to be successful, I think that’s what you’re doing -- throwing ideas out there and getting people to talk about them,” Littlepage said. “I’m obviously going to be trying to convince you where I come from, but I’m going to listen to your side as well.”
He said he's discouraged that the current state of public discourse is so partisan and unyielding. He admitted he intentionally stirred some of those feelings with his columns.
“I’m the kind of writer who likes to, you know, make strong statements. But that’s how you get readers to read,” he said. “If you’re wishy-washy, they’re not going to read you, but I would hope that we could get past the yelling and the discrediting of anybody who doesn’t agree with us.”
Littlepage’s final column, which mentions, among other things, Littlepage's beloved St. Johns River, will print on Sunday.
After that, Littlepage said, he'll be spending time with his wife on their farm just west of Tallahassee.
“I’m fortunate,” he said. “It’s a beautiful part of the country -- nice, rolling hills and ponds and creeks, and all that. I’ll still be out kayaking on the St. Johns River and the Timucuan Preserve.”
And, he said, his faithful readers will still be hearing from him.
“I’ll continue to write for J, the downtown magazine that we started here, and hopefully some for First Coast Magazine," Littlepage said. "And you know, who knows, maybe I’ll figure out how to blog and still get some opinions out that way.”
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