Happy to be home again


It’s good to be home.
Nearly two years ago, I left Perry County after a nearly four-year stint as managing editor of the Republic-Monitor. I didn’t want to leave, and — as I’ve been telling folks around town — I’ve been trying to get back since before I left.
I was born in Sikeston, raised in Charleston, and spent most of my youth and young adulthood roaming all over southeast Missouri as a sports writer before heading off to bigger markets — first out east in Pennsylvania and then down in Little Rock, where I spent the better part of two decades honing my craft as a writer and page designer before getting caught in a round layoffs.
It wasn’t long before I got a call from a previous publisher of the Republic-Monitor, who offered me a job as managing editor.
I’d been to Perryville before, much like I’ve been to nearly every town in the region, but I didn’t know much about it. I started work here on March 1, 2017, and observing the community for those several days in the wake of the tornado taught me all I needed to know.
Over the next weeks, months and years, Perry County grew more familiar to me. I met good people, formed solid friendships and began to think of this place as home. Then the pandemic happened.
By December of 2020, I was a little broken and more than a little lost after the October death of my mother due to the novel coronavirus, a gut punch that felt more like a cheap shot after the death of my wife just four years earlier.
For the first time in my life, aside from some distant cousins I don’t know that well and my two step-daughters — who live in Michigan with their birth father — I was alone in the world. I needed a little space to grieve. I needed more money to pay for my mother’s funeral.
I needed a change.
Luckily, I had a friend who was more than willing to help.
Before I came back to southeast Missouri — where I was born and bred — I worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, a one-time top-50 metro daily. One of my good friends form those days, Scott Loftis, was working as the managing editor at the Carroll County News in Berryville, Ark.
Scott has been a good friend, adviser and confidante for more than 20 years and was one of only two people I knew in Carroll County, a small rural community in northwest Arkansas not much different from Perry County, at least if you look past the rows of chicken houses that fill spaces we’d more naturally associate with row crops.

Loftis, or “Lofty," as we called him, was loud, boisterous and opinionated. He was alsopossessed of one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve ever met, always willing to hear meout, cheer me up, or offer his thoughts on any situation. I grew to rely on that, even after he left the Democrat-Gazette.
Some things never change.
Loftis gave me the opportunity I needed, offering me a job working with a top-notch staff— first Samantha Jones and then Rick Harvey, another Democrat-Gazette alum — at the best small weekly newspaper in Arkansas and even offering up a spare bedroom so I’d have a place to live while I paid off my mother’s funeral expenses and then later, as I searched for my own space.
In mid-September, I was contacted by the regional publisher from the Republic-Monitor’s parent company. He was reaching out to see if I’d be interested in coming back to Perryville.
He wanted to hire me as president, editor and publisher of this newspaper. This wasn’t the first time I’d spoken with him, but it was the first time he’d started the conversation. While a little nervous about the shift in responsibilities, I jumped at the chance, eager to take on this newchallenge.
It’s going to be different, that’s for sure. Being a publisher is much different than being the managing editor. I have more people relying on me, more responsibility and, I’m sure eventually, more stress because of it.
I’ll miss Carroll County and its people, all of whom welcomed me when I arrived.
It’s a good place, filled with good people, one I’m proud to have called home — even fora little while, but my true home — the one I hope never to leave again — is right here in Perry County.
These past few days have served to remind me of that, as friendly faces greet me with a smile, a handshake or a hug, welcoming me back. It’s almost like seeing family.
I’m so glad to be home. I never want to leave again.


Robert Cox is publisher of the Republic-Monitor. His email address is RMPublisher63@gmail.com.


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