Last week was not a good week for the Opelika Observer family. We lost two of our owners. Worse yet, we – along with the entire Opelika community – lost two of our most loyal supporters.
You would never realize it unless you knew them, but both were similar in a number of respects: both had overcome early obstacles to achieve excellence in what they did.
Calvin Rhodes came out of the red clay hills of nearby Dadeville to begin work as a route man for Ingram’s Bakery and, when Flowers bought Mr. Hamilton out, Flowers Bakery. He rose through the ranks to president of the Opelika plant. He was widely loved and respected.
Henry Stern came out of the Westphalia state of Nazi Germany, escaping the Holocaust, having to learn a new language before he could begin his ascent to become a champion of his adopted home of Opelika.
In addition to both being Observer owners and supporters, both men were Kiwanians (both had served as club president) and both were charter members of the Opelika Order of Geezers. Both loved Auburn University football.
Calvin’s and Henry’s accolades are too numerous to mention here, and it is likely many in the community will remember these two rare men for different things. We, however, will remember them for what they meant to this newspaper.
Calvin was the quiet, unassuming manager newspaper with a dry sense of humor.
Henry was more outgoing. Many people thought he ran the Observer – but that’s not the real story. He offered “suggestions” to which, of course, we listened, and he provided us with volumes of stories and other material, much of which we have already used and much of which we will use in the future.
We salute their memories. We shall miss them both.