The death Saturday of longtime Telegraph reporter, editor and columnist Jim Kulp is both the passing of a man and one more “old school” journalist, such as those who taught me the trade in college.
Unlike so many in the field today, Jim just wanted to tell the story. He did not go into journalism to make a name for himself, to make it all about “Me” or “I” or become a local celebrity, if just in his own mind.
Jim retired in 1988, before I started writing part-time, then full-time, for The Telegraph. He still had ink in his veins so he didn’t stay away for long. He returned to work for the paper in various part-time capacities, so I did get to know him in the 1990s and beyond.
Jim was quiet as he worked, so when he did say something, it had meaning — although it could be a refreshing bit of his dry wit to lighten the day or evening.
When Jim praised my work or when we commiserated over a certain lack of professionalism in journalism or by a public figure (shaking his head gently), it took me back to a certain professor I had at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
It held weight.
I was honored to be one of the people Jim invited to his going-away luncheon that Lewis and Clark Community College held for him, as Jim covered their board meetings for years. He was quitting to take care of his wife, who was in poor health and whom he did not want to leave alone at night.
A few times he gave me career advice or told me of a job opening. More than once he commented admiringly on how women do so much work at this newspaper. Back when he started working in journalism, he didn’t see many women reporters, they mainly limited to the “Society” page.
Even after he quit reporting or editing, Jim wrote columns.
Yes, they included himself, his opinions and events in his life, but they always had a bigger picture than just being about Jim Kulp. They also reflected intelligent opinions. I could relate to many of the columns as he was close in age to my mother. Their recollections and stories were similar regarding World War II and the Depression.
Back to his wit.
The only column I cut out of his — which I mailed to my daughter — detailed how much he disliked cats. They were this and they were that. So, for some reason I can’t recall, he had to take care of his son’s cat for an extended amount of time.
The column got funnier and funnier as he grudgingly grew fonder and fonder of the feline, despite his efforts not to like the animal.
At the end, there was no way Jim ever was giving that cat back to his son!
Once Jim retired for the second time, he used to say how eager he was every morning to go outside and get The Telegraph and open it to see what we had written about this time. He was so appreciative of the amount of content in the paper, despite a small staff.
The man apparently still had that ink flowing through his veins to care so much about the newspaper.
I consider it a privilege to have worked, albeit on-and-off, with Jim Kulp.
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