There are two comments about any newspaper's obituary section that have stuck with me through the years.

The first is unattributed, to the best of my knowledge. It is this: "I always read the obituary page first thing in the morning. If I'm not on the page, I get on with my day."

The second is from Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, who said, "You should always go to other people's funerals so they will go to yours."

Granted, Yogi also said this, "I probably didn't say everything I said."

Lord knows, there are days that I shouldn't have written everything I wrote.

Today's obituary section in The Highland County Press includes two people whom I hold in high regard: Bill Siddons and Dick Gorman.

Former Cincinnati Enquirer editor Jim Rohrer once told his class at Chatfield College that the obituary page is possibly the most important page in the newspaper. That message hit home with me 30 years ago, and I agree.

Now, in HCP columnist and local historian Steve Roush fashion, let us go back some 40 years to the 1980s.

In the fall of 1980, I was hired by Ernie B. Blankenship to be a "material handler" at Rotary Forms Press, Inc. on South High Street in Hillsboro – ironically, it's directly across the street from Big Ernie's Pizza, which bears Mr. Blankenship's name and my tribute to him at the restaurant's entrance.

That year, I met journeyman press operator Dick Gorman, who lived close to me in Belfast. I used to run the RFP paper slitter and bring cut rolls as well as mill rolls to the back of Dick's press – Press No. 41 – which, back then, ran a lot of MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) forms. Checks, in other words. These were numeric and very sensitive ink adjustment forms.

After I'd been a material handler and slitter operator for a couple of years, Dick and Terry McElwee, who also ran Press No. 41, encouraged me to apply for a pressman's job. I did. Lo and behold, I ran Press No. 41 on the graveyard shift, following Dick and Terry. Truth be told, I learned a lot from both men, but when a foreman (possibly Richard Morris, Tim Rhodes or Dave Heaton) moved me away from MICR printing over to Press No. 42, a new Hamilton press, I couldn't have been more grateful.

Dick Gorman retired from Rotary Forms after more than 46 years of service and served as a trustee for Coss Cemetery just outside Belfast for over 30 years. He was also a member of Mayhill Church of Christ. He passed away Sept. 10 at the too-young age of 73.

Memorial contributions may be made to Mayhill Church of Christ, 8733 S.R. 770, Seaman, Ohio 45679 or Freedom Fellowship Church, 7451 Pea Ridge Road, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133.

To sign the online guest book, go to

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• Also in the 1980s, I bought a few acres of land, around 54, according to Adams County surveyor Bob Satterfield's measurements. Well, with 54 acres and a mule (OK, a few dogs), it was time for a house.

Having been a customer of Farmers and Traders Bank for several years, I deposited my Rotary Forms paycheck one morning and asked to speak with Bank President Bill Siddons. I had not made an appointment, mind you.

A very pleasant lady asked me to wait for just a moment. Bill welcomed me and asked what he could do. I told him I wanted to borrow money for a new house. He asked about collateral. He already knew that I worked for Al Cassner. (That was an immediate plus, in Bill's book.)

I told him I had 54 acres free and clear. (Yes, I lied. I owned 27 acres and my parents owned the other 27, but let's not worry about the details some four decades later.)

Bill asked several questions. I don't recall that he took any notes, but he looked me straight in the eye when he spoke. I answered his questions. He said the bank could loan the money.

I was more than surprised, to say the least. We closed the loan in less than one hour. I believe it was a 20-year note. We paid it off in 12 years. We are still in the house and on our mostly wooded 54 acres.

One can only imagine how many other people Bill Siddons has helped along their life's journey. The last time Bill and I talked was a few months ago at US Bank (formerly Farmers and Traders Bank) across from the Post Office in Hillsboro.

Bill was not shy about sharing opinions with me, political or otherwise. But I thanked him again that day. Bill Siddons took a business gamble on a 20-something young man and gave him the opportunity for home ownership. I will always be grateful.

Like Dick Gorman, Bill retired after 46 years of service as a bank president.

Imagine, working 46 years in one profession, whether it's printing or banking, it doesn't matter. That's almost a half-century of service.

Bill was 89, and he passed away Sept. 9. I will always consider him as a friend and wonderful counselor as I moved from cleaning factory trash compactors to becoming a journeyman press operator to a small business owner. Without question, his advice was always spot on.

Funeral services for Bill will be 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12 at the Thompson Funeral Home in Hillsboro. Marvin Wilson will officiate. Burial will follow in the Hillsboro Cemetery, with military honors conducted by the the Highland County Honor Guard. Donations can be made to the Highland County Animal Shelter or the Highland County Humane Society. To sign the online guest book, please visit

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press, Highland County's only locally owned and operated newspaper.