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Schrader’s veins ran with printer’s ink

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

“It has been said, time and time repeated, that once you get ink in your blood, running strong in your veins, you can never get it out … You never grow too old to write when the ink is in your blood.”

Longtime Southwest Times employee J.R. Schrader was the epitome of this 1936 quote from “Ink in the Blood,” by Elizabeth R. Hartman. Schrader died Monday evening at the age of 81.

John Roy “J.R.” Schrader joined the staff of The Times in the fall of 1966. Other than a few stints at other professions, public service and another newspaper, he always ended up back at his original stomping grounds, The Southwest Times.

He was working at The Carroll News when he retired in 2003, but the writer and editor in him never left. He returned to The Southwest Times in 2010 when he stopped by the office to discuss some typographical errors with the publisher and ended up being hired as a copy editor.

He started out in the newspaper business as a sports editor and news reporter in the days of notepads, typewriters and typesetting, and grew with the changes through the years. He may have chosen to keep his pen and pad in lieu of digital recorders and cell phones; but he readily gave up the typewriter for a computer and the wealth of information available on the internet.

Schrader was known to spend hours researching statistics and background for his editorials, thriftily recycling by taking notes on the back sides of paper co-workers had discarded.

When it came to local history and actions in his early days of journalism, he was always ready to recall events in minute detail. Whether it was the time he secretly following a local official to confirm a scandal or a feature he wrote on a special citizen, he seemed to have a miniature library of local events tucked away in his brain.

Schrader started working from home several years ago, contributing daily editorials. He had been out of service due to health issues the past month, but remained employed as editor emeritus at the time of his death.

Schrader takes with him a wealth of information on local history and the newspaper business. His service to the newspaper and community, his stories, his office visits, and his often “corny, but laughable” jokes, will be greatly missed.

David Gravely, Southwest Times project manager, said, “J.R. was one of the most sincere and caring men I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Each time he came into the office he had that look on his face. You could just tell how much he loved newspapers and reporting. He always waited until we were alone to ask if I had heard about the latest on something that, usually, hadn’t even hit social media yet.

“It was like he had connections everywhere. I think he was able to connect with people so well because he genuinely cared. He cared about our community and he cared about the people who live here. He was someone I could always go to for advice on how to handle something. He was a Pulaski County treasure that will never be replaced.”

General Manager Vanessa Repass recalled when she first met Schrader.

“When I was a young single mom working at The Southwest Times in advertising in the early 1990s, J.R. showed me an act of kindness that I will never forget,” she said.

“It was Christmastime and my children were around 13 and 9 years old. I hadn’t worked for the newspaper very long and was struggling to pay bills. A couple of days before Christmas there was a card on my desk with a gift certificate to Kroger. It simply said, ‘You and your girls have a nice Christmas dinner.’ Little did he know, I was trying to figure out how to do that very thing. I bought the groceries and we did have a nice dinner because of a kind man and his wife, Doris.

“I thanked him after we came back to work from the holiday and we got to talking and discovered J.R.’s daughter, Pam, and her husband, Ron, pastored our small church in my hometown of Mullens W.Va. What a small world. My mother had even crocheted a baby blanket for their first granddaughter at the baby shower held at Mullens Pentacostal Holiness Church.”

Repass continued, “His kindness helped me before we even figured that out. J.R. was smart, funny, always telling jokes but, genuinely cared about people. As he got older he couldn’t drive at night and I would take him to functions. I teased him and Doris about me having a date for the night. He was a wonderful man and will truly be missed.”

She said her biggest regret was that she didn’t go see him before he died. “I have been sick, but that is no excuse. Go see the people you love, you may not get a second chance. I didn’t,” she added.

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