CAREER NO. 3. After eight years, I’m leaving BOOMER … but forget retirement


Blunt headline, isn’t it. But that’s the short of it: I’m leaving as BOOMER’s editor.

I’m goin’ off book-writin’. Call it Career No. 3. (I know: Why can’t I hold a job?)

Career No. 1 was the Richmond Times-Dispatch, first as a reporter, then 19 years as a columnist. Loved it. But there came a time … when it was time to leave.

My books on the North Carolina coast had been selling well enough to leave. Afterward. I was in Ukrop’s one day, though, and saw a magazine called Boomer Life. It seemed to be a national magazine, with a few local articles. (Eye-opener: You realize newcomers don’t know what Ukrop’s was?)

What it needed, I decided, was a Richmond columnist.

The publisher, Lori Ross, agreed. It actually was a Richmond magazine, though, she said, even if the editor and art director were in Canada. (Really. I’m not kidding. Ask Lori some day.)

That wasn’t even the biggest shocker.

Instead of just writing a column, she said, how about being editor?

Editor? Me!? To a writer, editors were to be tolerated. “Those who can, write,” I would tell them. “Those who can’t, edit.”

Odd they never found that as amusing as I did.

But I took the gig – Career No. 2 – on the assumption that editing an every-other month magazine had to be a part-time job. Thus I could still write the books.

The job has been great, though hardly part-time. Working with fantastic people, we’ve grown the magazine, won awards, gotten respect. People tell us they love what is now BOOMER.

So why leave?

First, the time feels right. I would be repeating my work.

So, second, the timing seems right for those books. In my eight “part-time” years here, I’ve written only two – and last year’s on The Richmond Forum nearly killed me. (OK, hyperbole. But for someone so lazy, it was hard.)

I’ll miss my co-workers. I’ve worked with Lori for eight years and Art Director Matt Stanton for nearly as long. Both are gems: talented and easy to work with.

Likewise, Production Coordinator Joyce Thompson has been a good friend.

The same for our editorial assistant/staff writers over the years (Briana Easter, Erika Wells and Daniel Jones) and an earlier art director, Scott Harris.

I’ll miss the freelance writers. Many were my talented former co-workers at the Times-Dispatch: Betty Booker, Steve Clark, Robin Farmer, Randy Fitzgerald, Lee Graves, Marggie Graves, A.J. Hostetler, Ed Kelleher, Jann Malone, Bill Millsaps, Daniel Neman, John Packett, Melissa Ruggieri and Bonnie Winston, as well as cartoonist Gary Brookins and our copy editor, Hew Stith. They are all friends.

And they had better keep in touch.

Columnists David L. Robbins and Kate W. Hall have been a dream. So, too, have been prominent broadcast veterans who transitioned into print for us: Bill Bevins, Shelly Perkins, Lisa Schaffner, Gene Cox (for a while) and Bill Oglesby. There’s no finer pro in any field than political analyst Larry Sabato, who writes an annual piece. Along the way we’ve had fine freelancers, too: Bonnie Atwood, Jim Ducibella, Barbara Fitzgerald, Audrey T. Hingley, Mark Kearney, Terri L. Jones, Fran Marmor, Lisa Melara, Paula Neely, Randy Ray, Doug Riddell, Martha Steger and too many others to list here. I appreciate all. They made my job easy.

I also thank our sales staff, without whom there would be no BOOMER: currently Tracy Stewart, Mike Cheadle, Brian Donohue, Craig Ross and Jared Ross. So, too, Ross Publishing’s other top management: John Ross, Brian Ross, Katharine Ross.

I should note my leaving has nothing to do with new publisher Paul Hinski coming in. Quite the contrary. Paul has been great. Sharp, funny and talented. BOOMER is in good hands.

And likewise, new editor Annie Tobey is a great one. I can see that already. (Don’t be too good, Annie. I told them the gig was tough.)

And I thank all you readers. Without your support (and that of you advertisers), I would have been pumping gas somewhere. (Wait … they don’t even do that anymore)

I’ve been asked to stay on as BOOMER’s editorial director – in essence, a part-time consultant – until the new team feels at home. They’ll get this thing quickly.

So that’s the story. There’s no retirement any time soon. It’s on to writing books, both nonfiction and, I hope, some fiction. Please be sure to buy those books.

You don’t want me to starve, do you?

Catch up with Ray at,, or

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One Response to CAREER NO. 3. After eight years, I’m leaving BOOMER … but forget retirement

  1. Betty Wright says:

    I gasped when I read the news! I have been with you since RTD days. You even invented Topsail Beach for us and we love your books. I guess it is your way of keeping us “old folks” awake! Good luck! Maybe you could have a little column in Boomer now!
    Hope to see you at the library on Tuesday.

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