As I’ve been cleaning out my cubicle at the Daily Journal, I’ve come across a lot of artifacts.

“Thank you” notes, “you should be fired” notes (I keep both) and countless clippings, trinkets and things I probably should have thrown out years ago.

That’s what happens when you leave a place – you uncover the things that made it memorable.

After my grandfather died, we found his handprint on a wall in the basement of his house. His hands had evidently been greasy or covered in paint when he rested against the wall, and it was forever imprinted.

I’m not sure if I’m leaving my handprint on the Daily Journal when I leave here next week, but I hope something of me gets left behind.

I’ve been fortunate enough to cover the comings and goings of the arts and entertainment scene in recent years in the pages of your newspaper. For the last couple of months, I’ve been working the education beat – something that, to me at least, has been a gold standard of Journal coverage over the past decade thanks to the work of people like Chris Kieffer who championed it for the community.

Kieffer is one of many names of people that welcomed me into this place years ago that have gone on to other ventures. Lloyd Gray, Scott Morris, Riley Manning, Stephanie Rebman, Crissy Bland, Justin Whitmore, Lauren Wood Whitmore ... just to name a few.

I’ll always remember my first day, my first interview, my first election or tornado to cover (those might have been one and the same) and several other firsts.

I’ve gotten to chase down Santa Claus and Mark Zuckerberg and follow ghost hunters through various haunts. I’ve been in the middle of car chases – specifically one with a nude male that stole an ambulance – and seen my fair share of perp walks, including said nude male.

I’ve had the chance to interview a wide range of people, including Alice Cooper, The Beach Boys, Styx, Patton Oswalt, Miss Piggy, Dwight Yoakam and countless Elvis Tribute Artists (note: they are not “impersonators”).

But the most important person I’ve gotten to interview is you, the reader. I’ve enjoyed spotlighting those that aren’t necessarily famous, but that make a difference in our community on a daily basis and the stuff, reasons and things you contribute. From cancer survivors to actors, musicians to new parents – we’ve covered the weird, the wild, the sweet and the endearing.

One of my favorite things I’ve done is interview kids who are making their stage debuts in theatrical productions and make them feel like celebrities for a day. I remember feeling the same way at their age when someone would interview me from the paper.

I learned how to read from sitting on my grandfather’s knee and looking at Garfield or Family Circus cartoons and doing the word search from the Mini Page in the Daily Journal’s Sunday section.

My history with it goes back further than my first story.

So to Charlie, Michaela, Dennis, William, John, Thomas, Adam, Bobby and Brad – who have served this paper and community for decades, welcomed me on my first day and are still serving here today – thank you for your friendship. To Sheena, thanks for giving me a chance to steer Scene. To Leslie and Ginna – my Cagney and Lacey, my Laverne and Shirley, my Lucy and Ethel – thanks for letting me play in the land of the living with you, your guidance and leadership.

While my bylines will be leaving, I’m told my weekly column may continue, so you’re not rid of me completely. Not yet, anyway.

W. DEREK RUSSELL is a columnist for the Daily Journal. Readers can contact him on Twitter @wderekrussell or email him at

W. DEREK RUSSELL is a columnist for the Daily Journal. Contact him on Twitter @wderekrussell or email him at

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