I spent yesterday in Des Moines for the annual Iowa Newspaper Association Convention. It was a good day for the Courier, with wins in the Associated Press Managing Editors competition for two editorials and our coverage of the Bridal Cottage fire from last year.

The big prize went to our head pressman, Nick Workman. He received a Distinguished Service Award from the INA for his four decades in the Courier’s pressroom.

The DSA awards are given each year during the convention’s luncheon. Most go to longtime editors or publishers, people who have given a lifetime to their newspapers. While they are, in theory, open to anyone in the industry who has served with distinction, I can’t recall one having gone to someone who didn’t emerge from a paper’s newsroom or ad department. Not before Nick.

Nick’s nomination goes back a bit. Our previous editor and publisher, Wanda Moeller, suggested nominating him. We pulled together the supporting documentation and letters, and sent it with our hopes high.

I’ve said in conversations within the Courier that Nick may well be the single most respected person in the building in the eyes of his coworkers. I stand by that. Aside from the fact none of the other department heads come close to having his tenure, Nick is a great example of leadership.

I’ve heard Nick grouse about things on occasion, but those complaints are far more likely to be related to our shared misery watching former Cardinals manager Mike Matheney bumble along than work. We celebrated when Matheney was finally removed.

Nick would rather work than complain. He puts his head down and plows through instead of letting the inevitable rough patches get him down. It’s an admirable trait.

Nick lives out in rural Wapello County, but I can’t recall ever having seen him miss a day due to the weather. Even after Thursday’s ice, I didn’t beat him into the office by much. As I headed out the back door to get some morning photos, there was Nick. He had rumbled to the office in his pickup.

He said he didn’t know whether he would be able to get to work. While I don’t doubt that he was telling the truth, I also have no doubt that it would take a lot more to keep him home. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had shown up with soot on his hands, explaining that he had to rig a flamethrower to melt the ice on the road. Nick has that kind of dedication. He’s also that good with his hands.

I’m not sure there are more than a couple dozen people nationally who could keep our press in the shape it’s in. The claims by some a few years back that the Courier had shut down its press, that we were printing the paper somewhere else, were always laughable. Jealous darts thrown by people who had agendas that required a lie.

So, as proud as I am of our newsroom’s awards, I’m more pleased to see Nick get the recognition he deserved. Not many people spend a career with a single company these days. Fewer still have after decades of work the kind of drive for excellence, the pride of performance that Nick exhibits.

Thanks, Nick. We appreciate all the days you’ve spent literally making the paper look good. We enjoy being your colleague, and we’re proud of you.

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.