Truett Langston, former publisher of the Macon County Times, and his wife Barbara, who also worked in the Times office, are moving out of Tennessee for the first time since they arrived in Lafayette 19 years ago. They will make a permanent home in Waynesville, North Carolina.
“That’s where my son and his family is,” said Langston. “The idea was that at our age, which is 71, and with our health problems—both my wife and I have heart conditions—we don’t have any family here, so we just needed to be near someone who could help take care of us.
“This was the idea when we retired, but we didn’t do anything about it for a few years. Then we put the house on the market, and then it sold.
“So I guess it’ll be all right. Of course, we’ll miss Lafayette, a lot. We’ve made a lot of friends here. The remark goes that as an Editor, if you don’t make somebody angry, you’re not doing your job…. but overall everyone’s been very nice to us here, and helpful.
“I’ve enjoyed the First Baptist Church, I’ve taught Sunday school there, an adult class, and I’ll miss that. Of course, Rotary—I’ve enjoyed that thoroughly. We’ve had a lot of good time with the projects, and the meetings have all been worthwhile. I’ve tried to be dependable and to be a good member, so to speak. That’s something I’ll miss. This is not a novel thing with my wife and I, because I think we’ve moved eight times.”
Truett Langston’s retirement from the Times in 2005 marked the end of a full 40 years in the newspaper business. He began in 1965 after graduating from the University of Alabama, starting as an ad rep with Tuscaloosa News and moving on to become a business manager at one of their newly purchased papers. He’s worked in a slew of papers across the Southeast (“I won’t go into naming them all”), including some large dailies.
“This is the smallest town I ever lived in,” said Langston. “We came here when the former owner, Mr. Gregory, had died, and this paper was in an estate. The group that I went to work for, Albreht Newspapers, bought the paper. He hired me— well, I became a partner—and I came up here in April of ’93.
“In December of that year I was diagnosed with colon cancer, and operated on in January, and had to go through that adventure. But I haven’t had any problems with that in 8 or 10 years.”
Langston offered some 40-year insight into the newspaper world:
“[I love] the constant change. Not only in production, but in the activity you were going to face every day when you came to work…
“I always felt like the newspaper was a real service that local people needed. I can’t imagine living in a community that didn’t have a local newspaper. It’s something that’s just needed to get the most out of your environment. I know there are places like that, that don’t have a paper… but the activity from the schools, and from the government, and from the sports angle— the locals always had good stories. Everybody’s got a story.
“At one time, I liked to do a feature on just anybody. You stopped at Walmart, or the post office, and if you were fortunate enough to strike up a conversation, you’d find something interesting about the person’s life, whether it happened years ago, or was going on right now. That was a big part of especially local newspapers— you could do that. State papers, you have to stick to the hard facts and keep away from ‘fluff’, as people call it.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to know some great, interesting people. One girl who used to sell ads for me is now a doctor. She did that because she just had the determination to do it; she told me when she was hired on that she was going to be a doctor someday. We worked it out that she could attend classes over at Livingston, and she just kept plugging away and taking a few hours here and a few hours there, until she finally got it completed.
“Another boy used to set type for us. I hired him out of the tobacco fields; he graduated from Westmoreland over here. He’s got a computer company now, down in Laverne I think. Another girl that used to write for us—feature stories and regular hard news— works for Ingram Publishers now. She’s got a good position there.”
Anyone asked about Langston’s professional or personal presence in this town has had positive and deeply respectful things to say. “Mr. and Mrs. Langston gave me the opportunity to work at the Macon County Times and I am grateful,” said Times Advertising Manager Hope Green. “Truett was one of the best bosses I have ever worked for; still today I look to Truett for advice. We are really going to miss them!”
“Most of all, I remember how Truett and Barbara loved the Times Newspaper,” said Times Office Manager Leigh Dallas, “Macon County and I always felt they served the community and the employees here at the Times office with the utmost respect and dignity. That is the kind of people they are.
“Truett hired me in 2001 and it was a bittersweet moment when he retired in 2005, as it is now to see him leave Macon County.”