“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” –Rabindranath Tagore
The world lost a good man on Tuesday. Keith Rathbun, publisher of The Budget Newspaper in Sugarcreek, passed away suddenly while working at his desk. According to the obituary written by staff at The Budget, Keith “became publisher and part owner of Scene Magazine and was instrumental in the creation of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and keeping it in Cleveland. He later moved to Sugarcreek and became publisher of The Budget Newspaper, a job he loved as he worked to serve the community.” Here is the article published in The Times-Reporter.
I came to know Keith when he began serving with me on the board of the Tuscarawas County Literacy Coalition. Keith was very passionate about literacy and it meant a lot to me to know he made some time to become involved with TCLC despite the fact that he was so busy in so many other community organizations. He said no to so many things and yes to TCLC. That commitment was something I always admired. If Keith was going to do something he did it well and he did it to the best of his ability. I have a quote taped to my desk that I found somewhere and each time I look at it I think of Keith: “It is better off doing a few things really well than a lot of things poorly.” My respect for him grew even more when Keith came to see me one day at the library to tell me he intended to resign from the TCLC board. His responsibilities with the Ohio Newspaper Association and the National Newspaper Association were growing and he felt he could not serve TCLC well by continuing to be the board’s membership chair. That impressed me so much because I often find myself over-involved with things. All good things, granted, but things that I feel deep down I am not doing well because I am spread too thin. Keith’s integrity and honesty moved me to make some changes in my own life. And for that Keith, my wife thanks you!
One day Keith and I met for lunch at Bread Head in Dover and he regaled me with tales of his days at Scene Magazine. He told me stories of interviewing Eddie Money, Paul McCartney, Angus Young, and others and how he still treasures his friendships with many of those music icons to this day. I told him he needed to write a book and I made him promise to keep the library in mind for a book signing when that time came. I asked Keith to do a talk on his Scene Magazine days at Dover Rotary and he brought down the house with his stories and unassuming style of downplaying incredible conversations and moments with American cultural icons. As a fellow Lutheran, Keith and I would talk faith now and then. I found myself sharing things with him that I have never told anyone else.
In the end, Keith will be remembered not for his stories about a life in rock and roll or his success in the newspaper business. He will be remembered for the way he treated people. He didn’t beat you over the head with religion but lived a life of humility and service and purpose that made you want to be a better person. He taught me that we impact people more by what we do than by what we say. Keith showed me that if you are going to do something, you do it full-go and that if you cannot you need to be man enough and honest enough with yourself and others to say so.
So that book idea won’t happen after all. But that’s OK when you think about it. The best thing Keith ever wrote was the way he chose to live his life. Each relationship, every commitment, and every passion he had exemplified the story of his life. That was his life story–the one he was writing the entire time. Each of us has a deadline issued by that great editor in the heavens. Do yourself a favor and make sure the story you are writing is one that is worth retelling. So long Keith and thank you for being a friend.
Courtesy of The Budget
-Jim Gill, Director