Water thicker than ink

Honea leaving Clarion after 24 years on press

Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bob Honea likes ink. He also likes water.

However, after 24 years at the Peninsula Clarion, the production director has opted to give up one for the other.

Today is Honea’s last day at the Clarion. After taking a short rest from work, he and his wife, Alma, will jump into their old motor home, drive to Washington, pick up their new one and zig-zag across the country for a month before reaching their destination: Maine.

“I’ve never been east of South Dakota,” Honea said. “We’re moving to Maine to be closer to my wife’s family.”

By closer, he means closer to Great Britain than Alaska is.

Honea, who spent 14 years as a guide on the Kenai River, is looking forward to checking out the rivers on the East Coast.

“I love being on the water,” he said. “I told my wife, ‘If we move, I have to be on the water.’

“When we made the decision to move, she was shopping for a new RV, and I was shopping for a boat.”

But it won’t be easy to leave Alaska, he said.

“I wanted to come to Alaska since I was 16. It’s been a great place to raise a family. I’m going to miss the community a lot.”

Honea came to the Kenai Peninsula in the early 1980s. At the time he was working as a pressman at the Anchorage Daily News, but made frequent trips to Kenai to help the Clarion with their press.

“Max Swearingen flew me down to operate the press,” Honea said of the former general manager. “I told him I’d like to take the job here.”

Following Memorial Day weekend in 1983, Honea got his wish.

“We spent four months living in tents at Centennial Park -- four of us and two dogs,” he said.

Honea started off as a pressman and was named press foreman three years later. By 1989, he was promoted to production manager, overseeing the press room and mail room, which is where advertisements are inserted into the paper. In 1999, he was promoted to production director, where he dropped being in charge of the mail room and added the composition department.

One of the biggest changes made during that time was the installation of a new press, which actually is made up of three presses.

“We got seven units from Amarillo (Texas) and one from a broker,” Honea said. “We kept the older press running until we were up.

“When I first came here we would put one spot color across the banner. D & A grocery store had the first color ad. We didn’t start with a full color front page until 1994-95.

With a head full of memories, Honea will be honored at the Clarion today with a luncheon. Once his day is over, he’ll be ready to try some new adventures.

“We’d like to see a lot more of Alaska. I think my wife would like to take a cruise,” he said. “I’ve been to Juneau a few times, but that’s it for Southeast.”

As for trading in the daily routine of a mostly 8 to 5 job, Honea said about the only thing he won’t miss is the late-night calls to come help with a press problem.

“I love the daily challenge of putting out a new product every day,” he said. “Ink is in my blood.”

Dori Lynn Anderson can be reached at dorilynn.anderson@peninsulaclarion.com.

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