Southwest Senior publisher announces final issue

Keith Whelpley
Southwest Senior founder and publisher, Keith Whelpley
This edition will be the final Southwest Senior monthly.

After more than 20 years, the changes in publishing and advertising have finally caught up with us. This day wasn’t a surprise as new technology threatened and then executed the new way in which people receive information. It left little room for a small newspaper that embodied the traditional — and now largely outdated — way of doing things.

It has been a pleasure serving the Las Cruces and southern New Mexico aging population and its service providers. It has been a pleasure working with all the people who have passed in and out of the Southwest Senior orbit. All of them were the people we needed for the time they arrived.

But like everything, there is a life cycle. This little paper began out of a father’s necessity to provide for his family and the serendipitous collision with a Sonic semi truck. Yup. A little-known story of how the first edition of Southwest Senior was launched is that I had little more than two nickels to my name but had managed to put together a first edition and send it off to the printer with no real plan for getting it back from the printer.

I needed $1,200 fast, but was reluctant to ask family. Self-sufficiency was always my goal. Divine intervention happened at the intersection of Nacho and Telshor in Las Cruces. The paper was ready and waiting for me. But I had no money to get it. It was a business day, and I waited in my 1989 Izuzu Trooper for the light to turn — thinking, thinking, thinking about my problem. Out of my peripheral vision came a semi-truck that eased so gingerly into my front fender.

I jumped out of the car. The driver got out his cab, already on the phone with Sonic’s risk management. He asked if I was ok. No injuries. We asked for each other’s insurance.

Still thinking about my $1,200 problem and now a crunched fender, it came to me. I asked if I could talk to the guy on the phone. I proposed we finish everything for $1,300. Risk Management said that I would have to sign an indemnity document. A few faxes later and the very next day Fed Ex arrived with a $1,300 check.

Southwest Senior was born.

For as much as I love that story, I love more that this small paper raised my two children in a way that allowed me to be there for every single critical moment — all the firsts; all the lasts; and certainly all the middles. It’s because of that I don’t look upon this end sadly but rather optimistically — for we are among the fibers that have made up the Southwest Senior experience. And while the paper is gone, its affect will ripple for generations.

By way of Southwest Senior, my daughter completed high school and is on track to complete a successful collegiate career and hopefully a rewarding life. While my late son never had to chance to complete college, he is for sure completing a different kind of existence.

As for me, I started in publishing as a writer for newspapers and a general assignment and investigative reporter. Southwest Senior came along when in was 35. And that immersed me in the business side. Now at 56, I am ready to apply what I have learned into new endeavors.

The thought of selling the paper flashed through my mind briefly. But something felt wrong. Like most small businesses, this endeavor was too personal. In the sale process, there is a song and dance the seller must do to make a buyer believe the business has value. I wasn’t willing to do that. Of course it has value. It raised my beloved children. The other thing was all the relationships I have forged over two decades with advertisers who trusted and had faith in me. Many have been advertising in Southwest Senior, off and on, since the day I opened. They know that when they call 642-8888 it would be my voice on the other end. Some things can’t be negotiated or sold.

There won’t be much time spent thinking about the loss of yet another publication, nor should there be. Instead feel happy that for this block of time, we all came together — editors, writers, readers, advertisers — and enjoyed each other’s company albeit by way of the printed page. It’s time to dive into what’s coming. But I trust that through some modern symbiosis we will come together again.

So with that, I’ll reach for the light switch. Click.

And bid all a farewell.