As an itinerant newspaperman working for six Southeastern dailies, I had many publishers. All paled in comparison to Rolfe Neill of The Charlotte Observer.
I started there as promotion manager in 1985. Rolfe challenged me to soothe the city’s unhappiness about the shutdown of the afternoon paper, to celebrate The Observer’s 100th anniversary and to promote its Pulitzer Prize for coverage of PTL Club’s Jim Bakker – all in my first year.
Rolfe abhorred bureaucracy — quizzing employees about bosses, breaking up meetings he deemed unproductive — wrote inspiring columns and operated as a servant leader. He still kindly answers my admiring emails.