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Thanks for privilege of serving you

My life has been blessed in countless ways, but certainly in the top 10 was answering a phone call from Joan Gandy a little more than a quarter-century ago.

That last phrase is a bit difficult to fathom — 25 years is a long time, but it doesn’t seem that long.

Gandy was then the managing editor of The Democrat and looking for a photographer.

In turn, I’d just graduated from Southern Miss and was looking for a photography job.

After a quick drive to Natchez, Gandy hired me on the spot and thus launched what has been a long career here and a relationship with so many of you all.

Aside from perhaps law enforcement, fire and ambulance personnel, I’d venture to say I’ve probably visited more corners, nooks and crannies of our community than most, and it’s been a blast.

From my work with the newspaper I’ve had a front-row seat to some of Natchez’s modern history. I’ve seen the Natchez bluff crumble a bit and then watched the amazing stabilization effort.

I was there when St. Mary became a minor basilica. I watched with pride as a number of state championship sports teams were crowned, making Natchez proud.

Through storms and troubles, coverage that makes people happy and coverage that can enrage people, we’ve always tried to treat people fairly and help tell people the truth about what is happening in Natchez.

I’ve met all sorts of famous people who have visited here through the years. None of them ever impressed me as much as the many great, everyday people who live, work and play here — the people who read the newspaper, get mad and call and who simply stop me in the grocery store to talk.

Community newspapers are special to me, but to view a newspaper as merely its staff, the press, the building and the newsprint and ink is like viewing a church as just a building.

Newspapers exist because of people like each of you, our readers.

The Democrat has existed for more than 150 years, and I’ve been blessed to be involved with it and its readership community for a portion of that history.

To that end, my role here is changing, effective today.

I’ve accepted a position with the company that owns The Democrat, Boone Newspapers. In the new role I am focused on helping newspapers — including The Democrat — evolve and grow our digital audiences and help business customers reach their customers through new digital tools we offer.

I’m not leaving Natchez. Our family will continue to live here, and I’ll work from The Democrat’s building.

A familiar face to Natchez and a native daughter, Jan Griffey, will assume the leadership of the newspaper effective immediately.

Jan began her career here many years ago and has worked in a variety of newspapers across the country. Most recently she has been the general manager of The Vicksburg Post, just up the road. She’ll be working from both locations for a while until she can fully transition to Natchez.

I’m thrilled that she’s returning to her hometown to help lead The Democrat, and I know all of you will welcome her with the same love, kindness and (when needed) bluntness that you’ve provided to me.

This will be my last column for the newspaper, but I’ll still be around, so drop me a line if I can ever be of service to you.

Thank you all for the privilege of serving you all. God bless and happy Easter.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.

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