WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --     Our schools are such an important part of our communities, and those who teach, administrate, and support are the fabric that makes our school great.

    When Principal Bill Richards officially announced his retirement I was quite saddened. Before he officially tendered his resignation I held out a glimmer of hope that he would change his mind, but when it became official I knew it would not happen.

    Bill and I have known each other from the time he came to Walnut Grove in 1978. Our family had just purchased the Walnut Grove Tribune the year before, and after just moving into a building on Main Street, Bill was our first tenant in one  of the upstairs apartments. For the most part our association was mostly through the Wilder Pageant of which the original script was written by my brother, James.

    Bill took the pageant from the early first performance in a very hot Walnut Grove gymnasium to the next level turning it into an outdoor pageant on the natural amphitheater on the edge of Plum Creek. Very appropriate since the pageant was based on the Laura Ingalls Wilder book “On the Banks of Plum Creek. After engineering and building the movable sets, and after Ross Alford the first pageant director left, Richards eventually took over the director’s jobs and added many innovative changes to the focus of the pageant from Ma Ingalls to Laura Ingalls. Richards has had a connection in one capacity or another for many years of the pageant.

    But it wasn’t until Walnut Grove and  Westbrook formed a cooperative school  and Richards took over the principal’s job for the secondary school that I really got to know him.

    I always have had an interest in the arts, and photography in particular, so we often talked about photography and different aspects of it. Ever since that time I have been indebted to him for his support of me and the newspaper. Many times he has bailed me out with photos and information that I was unable to get due to other commitments.  

    In a small town weekly newspaper an editor is often spread very thin and with the school being our main news source, I have come to rely on many of the school’ staff members for their assistance in getting me news and photos from events that I am unable to cover. So I have to give a big hats off to not only Bill, but to the rest of the WWG staff. Without your support it would be almost  impossible to continue getting the job done.

    Thanks Bill, it has been a fun ride!

A farewell party is being planned for Saturday, June 4. Watch for details coming up.

Have a great week and do good!