They’re the real faces of the places we know, and always with a smile

Don Kirkland

In the almost 30 years since Wrangler Newsbegan publishing, we’ve switched from one printer to another only three times. Besides our current provider, Signature Offset, which is based in Tempe, we’ve had excellent relationships with two others, the Arizona Daily Starin Tucson and the Prescott Courier.

The logistics of working with the latter two, and of course the reality that press-ready files are transmitted electronically these days, meant that we seldom had reason to visit those printing plants or communicate face-to-face with the staff that worked there. So, over time, the real “face” of those companies, the people we might have seen regularly in our earlier years, became less and less familiar.

Thus, after digital publishing arrived, if someone asked us the name of our most familiar contact at theCourier, there was no hesitation to our answer:

“Gary,” we’d reply. Gary, I should explain, was the driver who loaded our regular shipment of 20,000 newspapers onto a big truck before dawn every other Thursday and headed south to his first stop, our offices on Warner Road just west of the Price/101 freeway. Gary, it seems, had become not only the “face” of the Prescott Courierbut a visitor we looked forward to seeing—someone we thought of as a friend as well.

I remember us being on a weekend drive one time to Chino Valley, a rustic sort of place about 25 minutes from Prescott where we knew Gary and his wife lived. I called him on his cell phone when we seemed to be coming into town, told him we were there and asked for the name of a place where we might have a bite to eat. Of course, it turned out to be one of the hangouts frequented mostly by locals and a great find that we still look forward to any time we’re in the vicinity.

While my recollections of Gary may seem to be nothing more than random observations of how we humans interrelate, I think they’ve aroused my awareness that, if we look hard enough, there are a rare few other “faces” that periodically come into our lives and, with little more than the bearing of an ordinary truck driver, leave us with an unforgettable sense of closeness that we think little about at the moment but remember years later.

I thought of Gary the other day when we were dropping off newspapers at Marcos de Niza High School, and learned that Julian, one of the longtime security officers who greeted us last year when we drove onto the campus until he retired in May—who we came to regard as the “face” of Marcos de Niza—might be returning in the near future as a volunteer.

I shared that unconfirmed news with Tempe Diablo and friend Bill Ottinger, whose son Luke and daughter Madison attended Marcos. I knew Bill would remember Julian and that he had been sorry to see him retire last year after his wife died.

Just as the unverified report of Julian’s possible return had excited us, Bill was likewise delighted.

“I remember Julian,” replied Bill. “Super nice guy who was well loved by the kids. He would always say hi to everyone.”

Do Gary and Julian share a common gene? Is there a hidden trait among them and others that inspires the qualities needed to become that rare “face” of an organization? We suspect there must be—and it apparently always comes with a smile.


  1. Don, I do miss the weekly visits from you, you were always so kind and warmhearted and I looked forward to reading the articles. Thank you so much for the kind words I’ll treasure them always. I’d still be working at Marcos if my wife hadnt gotten sick as I thoroughly enjoyed greeting all the kids that passed through my gate as well as the pre-schoolers and parents. I do plan on volunteering in the near future but for now I’m inundated with getting my affairs in order. Til we meet again my friend I wish you nothing but health and happiness.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here