Sears’ legacy still true at Reporter

One of the last times we at the Shelby County Reporter spoke with Marcia Sears, she shared a simple philosophy the Reporter still carries on to this day.

Sears, who purchased the newspaper with her husband in 1967, worked to lay the groundwork for what the Reporter would look like from then forward: A publication focused on hyperlocal, community-focused journalism.

“The responsibility of weekly newspapers is really serious in small communities. It’s very important to have a local paper,” Sears said when interviewed for a story about the Shelby County Reporter’s 170th anniversary in October 2013.

Knowing readers could get national news elsewhere, Sears chose to focus on what was most important to those who live in Shelby County.

Marcia and Ralph Sears purchased the Reporter in 1967, and owned it for 17 years before selling it in 1984. During their tenure, the Sears family established the standard for the newspaper for decades to come.

“Mrs. Sears set the benchmark for community newspapering in Central Alabama. She understood and accepted the responsibilities that come with leading a public institution,” current Shelby County Reporter President and Publisher Tim Prince said. “Those of us now responsible for leading this newspaper are building upon the foundation of community service and solid journalism built by Mrs. Sears. We will miss her, as will our community.”

Sears left behind a lasting legacy throughout the county during her 86 years on earth before she passed away unexpectedly on April 13.

Sears, who also was the first female president of the Alabama Press Association, made an impression on all she met and will surely be sorely missed by nearly everyone with whom she crossed paths during her lifetime.

She was a mentor to many journalists, scores of whom have gone on to have successful media careers all over the country.

Others, like Shelby County attorney Butch Ellis, credit her with launching their careers. Ellis called Sears “a real asset to the community.”

Sears’ influence extended beyond Shelby County and throughout central Alabama, where she worked with a gamut of charities such as the Birmingham Children’s Aid Society and the Cahaba Council of the Girl Scouts of America.

Shelby County lost a great woman on April 13. Sears set a standard during her life all of us should strive to reach.

The editorial is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.