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Roger Morris will be missed as editor, friend

| October 6, 2006 12:00 AM

To the Editor:

You have left this community shaken and unsteady on its feet. For many years, we have read your weekly perceptions and opinions in the paper; sometimes agreeing with them, and sometimes not. Always, however, we knew from your writing that you cared about us as a community, and that you had come to know us fairly well. Now - somehow - we need to learn to live without your words and perceptions, your broad smiling face at all those endless meetings, your optimism about our future.

You weren't from here - you never did shake that accent, Roger, despite all those years in the mountain west - and that gave you a different outlook. Maybe that was not a bad thing, in a town where a few too many good old boys have long held considerable sway. Despite being an outsider, you came to be an intrinsic part of life in this small northwest corner of Montana. Your editorial column often was a mirror held up, reflecting both our best selves, and our worst, as clearly as the reflections on some of those high lakes you loved.

Watching you - as you watched us with a reporter's eye - I often got the impression of a very private man leading a very public life. And when you got sick, and the outpouring of care and concern came at you, I wondered if you understood the depth of it, and why we had come to admire you and respect you so much.

For, private or not, these things we came to know about you over the years of The Western News reading. You would not back away from an unpopular topic if you felt something needed to be said. You would change horses if you came to believe that the one you were riding was not heading in the right direction. You believed in the future, and in all the vital things - education, the arts, solid jobs and good health - that would bring us effectively into that future. And, you understood the importance of the ongoing conversation of community: of listening respectfully to each perspective and trying to make the best sense of it one could.

Finally, Editor and friend, a few last, hard lessons have come to us through you. Losing you, we can't escape the facts: that all we hold dear hangs by the slenderest of threads; that the time to go hike that mountain, get involved in the growth of our community, say how much we like and respect someone, is now. You will always be part of the hearts and minds of many - most especially your heart-stricken family. You will be missed deeply. For ourselves, we will move into the future with a clearer vision of who we are as a community; for that we thank you.

Laura Sedler