On Nov. 16, 1970, Douglas K. Ray joined the Daily Herald as a reporter covering local news.
This week, Ray, now chairman, CEO and publisher of Paddock Publications, marked his 50th anniversary with Paddock's Daily Herald Media Group.
He was treated Monday to a surprise Zoom celebration by Paddock's board of directors and company executives.
"Over 50 years, Doug has been asked repeatedly to accept greater responsibility, and he has risen to every challenge," said Daniel E Baumann, who worked with Ray throughout his tenure until retiring as chairman emeritus earlier this year.
"The Daily Herald, and the larger media group he created, have met those challenges because of Doug and the people he selected for key managerial roles."
Ray joined the company a year after graduating from Southern Illinois University's School of Journalism, which would name him its Alumnus of the Year in 1990.
He quickly climbed the ranks, and became managing editor in 1983 and was appointed editor in 1991.
In 1998 he added the duties of general manager and was named president and chief operating officer in 1999, chief executive officer in 2002, publisher in 2009 and chairman of Paddock's board of directors in 2010.
In reflecting on his years with the company, Ray noted that longevity has been common at the Daily Herald.
"This era of large chain newspaper ownership and financial owners brings with it in many cases a revolving door of editors, managers and staff, moving from one town to the next," he said.
"But great newspapers are built upon understanding and connecting with the communities they serve, and the Daily Herald supports that commitment through the tenure of its staff -- our editor John Lampinen, 47 years, and Scott Stone our chief operating officer at 23 seems a relative newcomer compared with my own 50 years.
"It says to me that the Daily Herald is not only a great place to work, but importantly that our staff possesses the knowledge and skill that can only come with those years of being a part of the community."