Casper has beckoned members of both sides of my family for more than a century. Last month, I finally found my way back home.
I have spent the last 20-plus years living in several states, building up my experience in order to have the opportunity to run the Casper-Star Tribune. I never moved too far away. I needed to be close enough to get back to Casper to see my family.
I first moved to Casper, my parents’ hometown, in the middle of my junior year of high school. Coming from Portland, Oregon, it was a bit of a shock at first. For one, it was bitterly cold. But after my first week of high school, I had made a lot of friends and felt I had been here my whole life.
I later went to college, moved to Montana, fell in love and got married. Since then, my husband Jeff and I have lived in several states as we advanced in our careers. But for years, we agreed that our path would someday lead back to Casper, the place generations of my family have called home.
My parents, Gary and Linda Sweeney, grew up in Casper and have lived here for the past three decades. They met in high school, got married soon after and went on to graduate from the University of Wyoming. They celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary on Saturday.
My dad’s dad, Frank Sweeney, was born in Denver but moved to Casper early in life. He was a partner in Shepard Motors, the Oldsmobile dealership. My grandmother, Marie Sweeney, was active in her church and volunteered for years with 4-H.
My mom’s dad, Hobie Williams, brought his family here from the Midwest to take a job as circulation director for the Morning Star newspaper, a forerunner of the Casper Star-Tribune.
But he wasn’t the only member of the family with ties to the newspaper. My dad was a newspaper carrier, delivering papers along Poplar Street for several years in his youth.
Grandpa Hobie later became involved in politics, serving in the Legislature in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He and my grandmother Margaret raised three girls here.
My parents and their siblings, like myself, are proud Natrona County High School graduates.
Hobie later worked on one of U.S. Sen. Gale McGee’s campaigns, and McGee appointed my grandpa to become postmaster of the Senate Post Office in Washington, D.C.
Hobie remembers his years at the Casper newspaper with fondness and pride. He often told my mom and I that he was so pleased that I married a newspaper man. (Jeff has been in the newspaper business for more than 30 years.) I think he would be pleased to know that I am here following in his footsteps.
Running this newspaper is my dream job. I have worked hard to get to this place and am so excited to reunite with old friends and make new ones. I learned a long time ago that a newspaper is the backbone of a community and, wow, how lucky we all are to have the Casper Star-Tribune.
I was doing my research on our audience and had to double-check when I saw the size of our digital readership and how robust and relevant our content is. It turns out tens of thousands of people from near and far read the Star-Tribune in print and online each day to keep up with Equality State news. For two decades, I was one of them. Our Trib.com website averages millions of page views per month. No one in the state can beat our reach.
I have always loved Wyoming’s spectacular beauty and I am so happy that my enjoyment of it is no longer relegated to all-too-short vacations. On my first day on the job, I stepped outside the office for a phone call. When I looked out, I saw a group of antelope grazing on grass just beyond the parking lot. “How amazing,” I thought. I had to take a moment to text a former coworker back in Idaho. Where on Earth can you get that kind of view from the office parking lot?
I’m proud to call Wyoming home and I love to share my love of it with my friends and colleagues – no matter where they may live. I also enjoy learning its history and stories.
I hope you all, as our loyal readers, can find time to stop in (when we reopen our doors) or drop me a note to say hello and share some of your stories.
I am proud of this team and love being home.
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