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January 27, 1998

With the death of Milo Watson, our little city has lost another of its linchpins. Kenneth Coldiron passed away last week, and now Milo is gone. These men were great personal friends and partners in the building of this community in a very literal sense, even though poor health and advancing years robbed them of their effectiveness some time ago. They truly loved Perry, and we will miss them in many ways.

When I went to work for W K Leatherock in the newsroom at The Perry Daily Journal in 1941, Virgil Sherrod was advertising manager and was generally regarded as the company's No. 2 man. Virgil moved on to greener pastures in due time, and Mr. Leatherock had to find a replacement. After a brief trial and error period, he settled on Milo Watson, a skinny, awkward looking young man who had been working for Ed Lee at the weekly Harper County News out at Buffalo. This being a daily paper, some wondered if the new man could successfully perform. Milo soon proved to Mr. Leatherock's satisfaction that he could indeed handle the job. His impact on the community was apparent from the outset.

Milo and his sweet wife, Anne, had a young daughter, Carolyn, and soon they became parents of another girl, Mary Lee. The family meant everything to Milo. He was a doting husband and father, and later a grandfather and great-grandfather. When he became publisher of this paper following the death of Mr. Leatherock in the late 1940s, his role became even more profound. Through the years he was in the forefront of every significant effort to make Perry a better place to live.

Along the way, he had to fight the usual battles, facing down the inevitable opposition to forward-looking programs proposed by those who would add to our little city's growth. Every generation in this community (and elsewhere) has had to deal with naysayers and the roadblocks they would insert on the way to stability and progress, things which would positively affect every resident of this area. Milo used his position as publisher of this paper to present both sides of every issue, but his editorial comments were invariably on the side of anything that meant improvements for this city and all its residents.

Milo fell victim to an insidious disease a few years ago. It sapped him of his energy and his unique ability to deal with municipal issues, and in due time he was unable even to communicate with his beloved family or friends. In that sense, he was taken from us some time ago and his death is not as shocking as it might have been.

Still, he will be sorely missed, as is every soldier who carries some of the burden of working for the betterment of Perry. Voices and logic as clear and forceful as Milo's are hard to come by, and this community cries out for the help of everyone who truly loves this city. Who will step up to the plate and assume the role of designated hitters for Milo Watson and Kenneth Coldiron?