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Farewell to a great publisher

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Beginning today, life will be different here at the Deseret News. The halls will be a little dimmer. Jim Mortimer is retiring after 15 years as publisher.

And pity the poor employee who has a birthday. He or she won't have Mortimer around for a serenade of "Happy Birthday" — something he did faithfully for every worker during the years he served as both editor and publisher.

Mortimer has been a part of this newspaper off and on for more than 40 years. His 15 years as publisher came at a time when the paper, and the industry as a whole, changed dramatically to keep up with technological advances. The Deseret News began publishing on the Internet, building one of the best newspaper Web sites available, and it built a nine-story headquarters building downtown that is a jewel in the Salt Lake City skyline.

This newspaper owes Mortimer a huge debt of gratitude for his many years of service, for his consistent cheerful attitude, the concern he showed for each employee and for his guiding hand during these important years. Until a few years ago, his influence also was felt daily on this page as he led the editorial board and helped craft the newspaper's official opinions. His mark is felt on virtually every page of the paper.

The building will be his lasting legacy. Anyone who worked closely with Mortimer during those years knows how he sweated over each detail and worked to make it all just right. The result was a stunning architectural statement, with a glass-enclosed stairway running vertically the height of the nine floors. It will forever bring to mind memories of the man. But most of what Mortimer did with the News, and with the community at-large, was not as visible as a building. He was a great behind-the-scenes man. His work has had a lasting effect on the Utah Symphony, the United Way and many civic, business and journalism-related organizations.

And so there is a touch of sadness at the newspaper today, but there is joy, as well — joy for a rest well deserved. Mortimer was never one to take time for himself. He rarely indulged in a vacation. He was dedicated to the newspaper in all its facets, showing up early and going home late each day.

There is no rest as satisfying as one that follows good, hard and honorable work. We wish him a long and satisfying life in retirement.