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Remembering Persh Rohrer

Remembering Persh Rohrer


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


Persh Rohrer would have been 104 on Nov. 11.

When Persh died on Feb. 23, 2015, he was the oldest-working journalist in Ohio.

Quite possibly, the oldest in the United States, to be honest.

But I was never able to get the Associated Press and other various national newspaper organizations to confirm that. It was not that they were not interested, they just simply did not have the time to poll publications across the country.

I did not need that legwork, though, to confirm that Persh was as special as they came.

Our friendship proved that to be true.

He was 96 when he died.

It was a Monday.

He had filed the last column of his career for the Sunday newspaper. Just the day before.

Persh literally did what he loved, his professional passion, right up until his time ran out.

Persh Rohrer (seated center) holds a proclamation from Governor John Kasich celebrating his 95th birthday on Nov. 11, 2014. With Persh are then-Record-Courier Publisher David E. Dix (left), his wife Mary Rohrher (right) and myself.

We should all be so lucky.

My luck was that our lives crossed paths with each other.

Blessed, actually.

When I was promoted to Sports Editor of the Record-Courier on Aug. 20, 2007, I was 25 years old. Persh was 88.

I was the youngest Sports Editor the newspaper had ever hired and Persh was the oldest journalist in the state.

You would think that the 63-year age difference between us would have kept a cherished friendship from blossoming.

You would be wrong.

Our friendship certainly started before 2007, but it was my time as Sports Editor when our frequent phone calls and many hours spent in the office together began to take our once small conversations and expanded them to long ones.

Persh liked to talk.

I liked to listen to him.

I think Persh, too, liked that I listened to him.

He was always complimentary of my work, but he was not bashful about coaching along the way.

He knew the industry, he knew the profession and, most importantly, he knew the readers.

I knew what he was coaching me on was worth listening to.

I always envisioned there were mornings he opened up the newspaper and cracked a small smile, seeing a small change that I made in writing, editing or designing that he had offered a tip about the day prior.

Though I was not his grandson, Persh had that grandfatherly approach and like so many of those loving relationships, I wanted to make him happy.

Our conversations were always weaved with journalism, but they always covered so much more. Family, sports, pets. Cars, haircuts, crossword puzzles — and always his detailed stories from the past.

Conversations that I miss.

It has been seven years since Persh died, but I am reminded of him often when I am writing and I exercise a style or formatting edit that he “coached” me on years ago.

And I think it is important to publicly remember him every year to celebrate what he gave to Portage County sports.

He spent 64 years in journalism and 37 years as the Sports Editor of the R-C.
He was a one of a kind.

He was as special as they came.
And our friendship was just the same.

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