I told him my story -- a Railroader born and raised, a Durand graduate, a longtime radio guy learning more about print news; little formal journalism experience or training but well-versed in social and digital.
I told him that I started Durand Now because I felt the absence of The Durand Express, and I thought other people felt it too. I told him that I modeled the site after the Express and hope that it is, or is one day, as appreciated by readers as the Express was.
He is Owen Rood, Durand's true news man, for nearly five decades.
He agreed to answer the myriad of questions that I had, ranging from what readers most enjoyed and what they weren't as receptive to, to what people and organizations were easy to deal with and the ones that weren't, to the style of font he preferred to why the paper was published on Thursdays as opposed to the other six days of the week, and many, many other random questions.
Because Owen had some health challenges, rather than sit and interview him for an extended period of time, I submitted all my questions to him through his wife, Inez. Over the weeks that followed, in small sessions, Inez would read the questions to Owen and then transcribe his answers.
He answered many of my questions, including one about his most-talked about story ever. It happened in the 1980s but you'll be shocked when you see how closely it parallels the biggest story in Durand of this year!
Sadly, before he was able to answer all my questions, Owen passed away, on February 27th 2017, at the age of 94.
In this special to Durand Now, "From The Express to Now," I want to share with you Owen's perspective on our little corner of the world, and how he delivered it to our community for five decades.
Owen Rood purchased The Durand Express in 1952 and published the newspaper until selling to Mark Zale in 1988, but soon returned to, again, run the newspaper in 1992. He finally retired in 1997 when he, again, sold the newspaper; this time to the Argus-Press.
The many fond thoughts and memories of The Durand Express that residents today still share, are largely a reflection of Rood's passion for his community, local news and service over the course of all those years.
Moreover, Rood is credited with having "planted the seed" that inspired the woman for whom the initiative to save Durand Union Station is largely attributed to; Norma Ward was determined not to allow the depot's demise after Grand Trunk abandoned it in the mid-1970s and it all started when Rood published a plea for someone or some organization to take over the facility.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that when asked, aside from the name, what impact the railroad and our city's heritage had on content in The Durand Express, Owen said "at least fifty percent."