Rod Walton: A Friend for Life

There is a scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in which the principal’s secretary talks about Ferris’ across-the-board appeal with the student body.

“The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him,” Grace tells Ed Rooney. “They think he’s a righteous dude.”

Rod Walton is the newsroom’s Ferris Bueller.

He is an everyman who gives everyone the time of day, from the cleaning lady he learns the name of to the transient he passes on the sidewalk.

Rod is leaving the Tulsa World this week, and the journalistic integrity he takes with him is a gut-punch to the newspaper.

It also is a blow to me.

Rod and I have worked alongside or within earshot of each other for 16 years. We are the same age. We have children the same age, though he has four to my two. And we have taken lunch together in the same canteen for as long as I can remember.

You learn a lot about a person breaking bread with him every day. Here’s what I know about Rod:

–He is anti-condiment. Mention ketchup or mayonnaise around him at your own risk. His food is as dry as his wit.

–He cares about people. Through his church, he has made several mission trips to South Dakota, brightening the lives of members of the impoverished Lakota tribe.

–He loves his family. What I like about Rod is not the way he turns a phrase or edits a story. It is how his face lights up when talking about his Petticoat Junction daughters and football-slinging son.

It is a look only a parent can appreciate.

Best wishes, Rod, on your new career path.

You’re one righteous dude.

 

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