He came to the Coast from his home in South Carolina more than three decades ago. What a welcome he received. Just one year after arriving here, Hurricane Camille hit. Sun Herald publisher Roland Weeks has seen the worst of times and the best of times on the Mississippi Coast. Now, after 33 years, Weeks will retire.
Weeks says when he first got into the business nearly 40 years ago, he was not sure this was the right thing for him, but soon, he learned differently.
"I was offered a job, but was very unsure about this business, this career, but, what I know now is, it is the best thing that ever happened to me," Weeks said. "It's proved to be everything I want in a job. The challenge of running a business, and the very interesting business of being involved in a profession and being involved in a community."
But soon, he will reach the Knight Ridder mandatory retirement age of 65, so he will step aside. Filling his shoes, will be a familiar face around the Sun Herald. Forty-three-year-old Ricky Mathews interned at the Sun Herald when he was still in college. Little did he realize that one day, he would become the newspapers publisher.
Mathews has worked at the paper for 19 years, most recently as vice president of marketing. Weeks says he has known for a long time that Mathews has what it takes.
"He is a good man and his integrity is impeccable," Weeks said.
As for Mathews, he says this will be dream come true for him.
" I had a lot of opportunities to leave, and the bottom line is I love the Coast and the longer I was here, the more in love I became," Mathews said.
He a father of three who first moved to the Coast with his family when he was 3-years-old, and he has been here ever since. He is a family man, who loves to coach his kids sports teams and travel to National Parks with his family.
Mathews realizes the job of publisher will involve a lot of time and energy, but says he is ready for the challenge.
" It is humbling to have a leadership role at the ripe old age of 43, and in a community like this that is thriving and is challenged," Matthews said.
As for the man he will succeed at the Sun Herald, after more than four decades in the pressure packed world of journalism, Roland Weeks says he plans on taking some time off. A well know stunt pilot, Weeks says if you want to find him, look upward.
"Yeah, you will see me up there," Weeks said. "I plan on flying more in the recent future than in the recent past, that's for sure"