November 29, 2023

Farewell, Friends

1.7 min read| Published On: November 29th, 2023|

By James Combs

Farewell, Friends

1.7 min read| Published On: November 29th, 2023|

Here’s my final Final Thought.

Saying goodbye is never easy. But that’s what I’m doing after 15 marvelous years at Akers Media Group. 

Unfortunately, deteriorating health led me to resign. My eternal thanks to Doug and Kendra Akers, who hired me to become the company’s full-time writer when they launched a new publication in 2008.  It has been an awesome ride. 

That said, I don’t want this column to be a pity party or a sob story. Instead, I’m going to share some of my favorite memories:

GETTING OUR FEET WET. 

Before the inaugural issue of Healthy Living was printed, we took a photo of our staff standing in the Leesburg City Hall fountain. One co-worker jokingly said, “James, we should get a photo of you doing a running cannonball.”

THE UNFORGETTABLE AKERS COOKIE CAPER MYSTERY. 

The now-defunct Bloom’s in downtown Leesburg prepared beautifully designed cookies to be photographed for an article. One Akers employee couldn’t resist and gobbled the cookies down before Fred Lopez could photograph them. I plead the Fifth.

BOUNCING BALLS.
Back in 2015, Editor Gary Corsair had an electronic arcade basketball hoop in his office. We had some very fierce competitions. Then again, what else would you expect between a Kentuckian and Hoosier? Between games, we found time to write.

A FLIGHT TO REMEMBER.
I was the sole reporter on The Villages Honor Flight’s inaugural trip to Washington, D.C. in May 2012 so veterans could visit various war monuments. Seeing the look on the faces of the World War II vets that day was priceless.

STAR-STUDDED INTERVIEWS.
Over these 15 years, I have interviewed celebrities and athletes such as country music singer John Anderson, comedian Bill Engvall, television personality Dr. Drew Pinsky, and former UF quarterback Danny Wuerffel. 

THE MIRACLE CHILD.
Jaxon Buell, who was born in 2014 with a brain one-fifth of normal size, was expected to die in his mother’s womb. Instead, he defied all odds and lived to be 5. I wanted his story to be perfect and spent hours revising it.

THEIR LOSS WAS MY GAIN.
I had the opportunity to chronicle the weight-loss efforts of B.E. Thompson and Traci Oliver. It was a joy to watch both transform from fat and plump to trim and slim. 

WORKING WITH A ROX STAR.
My co-worker Roxanne Brown is one of the kindest and sweetest people I’ve ever met. She was a true friend to me as I dealt with several health problems during the past few years. I leave knowing the Editorial Department will be in good hands under her leadership. 

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About the Author: James Combs

Akers Media Group's James Combs has been a staff writer for several local publications since August 2000. He has had the privilege of interviewing some of Lake County's many fascinating residents—from innovative business owners to heroic war veterans—and bringing their stories to life. A resident of Lake County since 1986, James recently embarked on a journey to lead a healthier lifestyle. He has lost 60 pounds and walks nearly five miles a day. In his spare time, he enjoys target shooting, skeet shooting and watching his beloved Kentucky Wildcats!

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