After nearly 44 years of service to the hometown newspaper, The Sentinel-Record's advertising director, Debe Johnson, plans to retire on May 1.
"Most people can't say they love what they do and do what they love. I can. For the last 44 years, I have loved what I did. I've spent over half of my life at The Sentinel-Record because I have a true passion for the newspaper industry," Johnson said.
Over the years, she has witnessed the evolution of the newspaper industry, enjoyed watching co-workers' families and children grow and built lasting ties in the Hot Springs community.
"I deeply value my long tenure with WEHCO and will always be grateful for everything the Hussman family has done for me over the years. My newspaper career has been a dream come true," she said.
Johnson began her career at The Sentinel-Record at the age of 19 in 1975 as a page diagrammer and advertising office assistant, positions which she held for five years.
As her career progressed, she was promoted to the retail advertising sales department, again to retail advertising manager, and finally to advertising director.
"The longer I stayed here, the more I got involved, the more I started developing a passion for the business," she said.
As a woman who started her professional life at a time when women were not generally held in the same esteem as their male counterparts, Johnson reflected on how the workplace has changed for women and feels that women now have fewer professional barriers.
"As far as people viewing women seriously? Yes, absolutely. I think it's grown not just here in the newspaper industry, but across the world," she said.
Johnson shared some advice for women who would like to work in her field: "Come in, be motivated, and just learn everything that you can about advertising and different parts of the whole newspaper. Work hard, be dedicated to it, and just go out and do your job. It's been wonderful for women here, and we've always had the opportunity to advance here," she said.
In her retirement, Johnson intends to spend time with her husband, Rick Johnson, nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, and parents.
She also plans to devote more time to gardening, traveling to the beach and mountains and tending her farm in Bonnerdale, which is home to beloved horses and miniature donkeys.
"It has been a privilege, and I cherish my relationships with my newspaper family and friends in our beautiful community. I definitely have been blessed," Johnson said.
"Debe has been an integral part of the success of The Sentinel-Record. Her dedication and work ethic has been unmatched during her 44 years. We hope she thoroughly enjoys the next chapter in her life. She will be greatly missed," The Sentinel-Record general manager Harry Porter said.
"I'm going to miss my The Sentinel-Record family. It's a good business to be in. I've made a lot of good friends, and I'm going to miss it. But life goes on," she said.
Despite her upcoming retirement, Johnson said: "The ink will always be in my blood."
A retirement party for Johnson will be held from 2-4 p.m. Friday in the offices of The Sentinel-Record at 300 Spring St. Walter E. Hussman Jr., chairman of WEHCO Media Inc., will be in attendance.
Members of the community are welcome to attend and thank Johnson for her years of dedication to The Sentinel-Record and the community of Hot Springs.Local on 04/17/2019
Print Headline: Newspaper's advertising director to retire