ROCKFORD (WREX) — The Rockford Register Star said goodbye to one of its longest tenured employees on Tuesday.
Wally Haas started his 40 year career at the Star as a copy editor and moved through a number of positions before taking up the opinions editor role in 2000.
Haas held that position for the next 20 years highlighted by the 2002 gubernial debate between Rod Blagojevich and Jim Ryan.
Haas reflected on that debate as something that help put Rockford back on the map in the eyes of the state. Haas believes that attention from Springfield has continued to snowball with both Pat Quinn and JB Prtizker.
Even before the debate, Haas recalls how Rockford downtown and east side transformed over the last 40 years.
"We had four different bars with 'dancing' girls downtown," Haas said. "Slowly but surely, downtown has been cleaned up and now we have some great places."
Looking back at 40 years in the business, Haas hopes readers view him as someone who went to bat for the Rockford community.
"I've always tried to work hard and do my best," Haas said. "I hope that's how people remember me, someone who cared about the community, someone who cared the readers and tried to make the community better in the small way he could."
Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara declared January 28 "Wally Haas Day" earlier this year to honor the journalist's 40 years in Rockford.