Today was Bill Felber’s last day as executive editor of The Manhattan Mercury. It’s a big deal around here for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that the Mercury newsroom has been Felber’s second home since 1969.
We won’t attempt here to recite all his accomplishments. Suffice it to say his professional awards are numerous, both as a writer and as an editor, and they just scratch the surface of this gifted, hardworking, serious and often very funny man.
What has long struck us about Felber — that’s what he’s gone by here — is his knack for knowing what was important. He gets directly to the heart of an issue, whether in discussions with staff members or when interviewing public officials. He knows the news business, knows what questions to ask and how to craft a story so that it gives readers what they need to know. He tapped his sense of what readers ought to know about and made sure there were places in the paper for hard news as well as Emmy winners.
We’ve also known Felber to be a tireless worker, one who rarely took his full complement of annual days off. He’s a model of efficiency, making the most of his time, solving one problem and then moving on to the next. He’s never been one to ask a subordinate to perform an assignment he couldn’t or wouldn’t do himself. He’s covered issues large and small, and his knowledge of this community and its residents is encyclopedic.
Another of his assets has been his commitment to this community. That isn’t surprising; he’s a K-State alumnus and has covered issues and people here for more than 40 years. He cares about taxes not just as a newsman but also as a taxpayer; schools mattered to him long before he had a student in them, and he coached other parents’ children years before he became a parent.
His desire to bring the community into the news process led him to establish and operate the Mercury Grand Jury for a number of years. That was a rotating group of interested citizens from diverse backgrounds who would take on the public issues of the day. Also, Felber made a point of asking citizens what issues they wanted candidates to talk about rather than allowing the candidates to set the agenda during campaigns.
In short, Felber is a professional in every sense of the word, and he’s earned his retirement. He’s a young 64, which leaves us confident that he’ll find time for things other than two longtime interests — golf and baseball lore — and hopeful that we will be able to make use of his considerable skills from time to time.