Thirty-one years and who knows how many phone calls later, the column known as “Homefolks” in “The Daily Home” is coming to an end.
June Winters has written the column since 1979, a column that has recorded the lives and events of thousands of “Daily Home” readers through the years.
But Winters has decided it’s time for her to turn her attention to other things, although she will still be contributing to the newspaper.
“This has been a part of my life for almost 32 years and that’s a long time,” she said. “I know I’ll miss it, and I’m not going to be entirely gone from the paper, but it’s time.”
Winters will continue a Wednesday food page feature and as her time allows, other pieces for the newspaper, she said.
But Winters has not only been known for her Homefolks column, but also for many pieces on the people, places and events in the coverage area.
She’s also been known to cover breaking news when the need arose, going out to cover fires and accidents along with murders and court trials.
You name it, Winters has written it.
“June has meant so much to our company and to me, personally,” said “Daily Home” Editor and Publisher Carol Pappas.
“I remember when I arrived at ‘The Daily Home’ back in 1981 as a young reporter, and June was always ready to lend a helping hand to the newcomer. “She took the ‘youngsters’ under her wing. Still does,” Pappas said.
Winters joined “The Daily Home” after being recruited by former managing editor Larry Camp.
“He called me about doing it, I was doing a column then for ‘The Sylacauga Advance’,” Winters said.
She then talked to he husband, the late Floyd “Red” Winters about it, and they both decided that a daily column might be too much.
“He really didn’t want me working full time,” Winters said.
When Winters reported back to Camp, he didn’t want to take “no” for an answer.
“He said to let him talk to Red,” Winters recalled.
Camp’s appeal ended up working out, and since that day, the Homefolks column was a signature piece in the newspaper.
Winters recalls how she ended up getting all the connections it took to make he column work.
She gathered some names from friends, and launched social columns that eventually covered the Talladega, Sylacauga, Childersburg, Pell City and Lincoln areas.
Whether it was the local Farmers Federation Women’s Committee or the bridge club or the church circle or garden club, the events became a part of the Homefolks column.
Over the years, Winters has collected more than 500 names and telephone numbers that became regular contacts for Homefolks.
At one point, the “phone book” became so battered Winters had to transcribe it into a new one.
It took several days of writing, she said, and she did it during a trip with her husband to one of her very favorite places, Gulf Shores.
Winters laughs and says the book is about in the same shape now after using it for so many years.
Winters contacts have proven valuable not only for her columns, but when reporters needed news contacts though the years, they turned to Winters and her book countless times.
“I especially loved her column on Monday mornings called, ‘Potpourri,’ that she described as ‘a mixture of this and that,‘ “ Pappas said. “What stood out was her column photo- June in curlers.
“When I asked her about it yesterday, she said, ‘I don’t know who talked me into putting my hair in curlers.’
“Knowing June, I doubt it took much coaxing,” Pappas said. “She was never afraid to think outside the box, and Monday morning in curlers was the perfect touch for the column.
“I believe that has been the allure of June to the community all these years,” Pappas said. “She connects with her readers, the true hallmark of a community journalist.”
Winters said doing the “Homefolks” columns has been a true joy over the past three decades plus.
“I’ve met so many wonderful people through the years,” she said.
It was always fun to meet a column contributor face to face for the first time, Winters said.
“I would be somewhere and hear a voice,” she said. “And I’d know who it was even though I had never seen them.”
That’s when Winters would have the opportunity to turn and introduce herself, she said.
“June has covered everything from murders to the garden club and all the stories in between,” Pappas said. “But more importantly,” Pappas said, “she has done them all well.”
Pappas said her “Homefolks” column, which has been a fixture of “The Daily Home” for 30 years, truly will be missed.
“But we’re glad to know she will still be working with us on food pages and first person stories, doing what she does best, connecting with her readers.
“ ‘It’s been a big part of my life for a long time,’ she told me this week,” Pappas said. “And I could only reply, it’s been a big part of our readers’ lives for a long time, too.
“For 30 years, she’s told us all about our communities — who was born, who visited whom, who traveled, who entertained, who married and who died. Readers have invited her into their homes every day to read about their neighbors, people they know, even people they don’t know.
“You can’t get any closer to a reader than that. Thanks, June, for a job well done.”
“The Daily Home” cordially invites Winters’ friends to be part of a reception for her Friday, Jan. 15, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Sylacauga “Daily Home” office.
There will be a presentation made to Winters at 10:30 a.m.
Winters said she’s looking forward to having more time to visit friends and relatives, as well as continuing her food page and other stories.
But, she said, stopping the “Homefolks” column isn’t without its sad side, too.
“I know I’ll miss it, but like I said, it’s time,” she said.
Working at “The Daily Home” has always been much more than a job, Winters said.
“I have loved “The Daily Home” so much, and the people I talked with,” she said. “Just after I went to work there, I realized it was like a big family. That has followed me through all these years. I felt if I didn’t do my best, it was like letting the family down, too.”