“All journeys have destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” Martin Buber
In February 2012, I took a trip to Ironton, Ohio to research this story. I stopped at the offices of The Tribune, a newspaper that has served Ironton and Lawrence County for more than 100 years. Raymond Stephenson worked there as a paper boy and in the circulation department as a young man. My goal was to find out as much as I could from the newspaper’s archives.
I introduced myself to Mike Caldwell, the Executive Editor of The Tribune at the time and explained that I was researching a story. He was gracious and gave me guidance on how best to find the information I sought. In the course of our conversation, he asked me to tell him the story. When I finished telling him all I had already learned about Helen and Raymond, he said, “Wow. That’s a good story. Can we do a feature article on the story and your mission to write it?”
Mike assigned a sharp young reporter to work with me. Shane Arrington was a correspondent with the United States Navy before coming to The Tribune. We spent the better part of a day together and had many conversations thereafter. I told him everything I knew about the story. We drove to Woodland Cemetery, Raymond’s final resting place. A photographer from the paper accompanied us. Shane shared some excellent ideas about where I might find more information. We remain connected by this story.
A few weeks later, Shane authored and The Tribune printed a wonderful story about my journey to find my namesake. That article (see the press tab) and the accompanying photographs generated contacts and revelations that I could have never anticipated. I am indebted to Shane and Mike. Among the many rewards from this effort, is experiencing the help and kindness of strangers.