Former Tri-County Record publisher Myron Schober’s obituary noted that when he returned to the Midwest, a region he valued for its high value on truth, honesty and justice, after serving in the military, he had a goal: “My life plan is simple — be good and do good...it’s in the execution that the details get sticky.”

Schober was a very detailed person, though, and he got most of the execution of his simple plan right in his life, which included nearly 35 years as owner of the newspaper in Rushford until he sold it to me last year. Schober died last week after lengthy health problems that started well before the sale took place.

Although the business transaction brought us together last year, I have had a decades-long relationship with, and admiration for, Schober. Not only was he a good man, he produced a good — actually, an excellent — newspaper while always adhering to the best values of journalism.

One of my first interactions with him was when he tried to form a regional network of community newspaper publishers a long time ago when there were several of us in the area, a time when one community newspaper could support an owner and his family. Our industry has changed a lot since that time, but Schober didn’t as he always held true to the principles that should guide news people yet today.

At the time, I was also part of another group that banded together for printing newspapers as no owner of a community newspaper can afford his own press. One publisher in our group occasionally commented, with a bit of derision and a hearty laugh, “Myron sure has a beautiful newspaper, but I don’t think he is making any money.”

Schober did doggedly scrap for local advertising, but that was to support his goal — a quality newspaper that cared about the community — not to get rich. He followed his heart, which pulled him to producing a professional newspaper, guiding a community in the right direction, even if it took some pointed criticism, reminding local residents of the beauty all around them in the Rushford area and focusing on the human touch that connects us all.

His peers rewarded him with dozens of awards through the years. He was active in our Minnesota Newspaper Association and his opinions — as readers of the Tri-County Record know, he always had opinions — carried a lot of weight in our organization.

Several years ago, he approached me about purchasing the Tri-County Record. We met, discussed terms and continued informal talks until the flood came. At that time, he told me it wasn’t a good time and tabled the conversation.

Looking back, I don’t think it was because he was worried about getting less value for his newspaper. He felt his community needed him and he wanted to be there to pitch in and help.

It was a stressful time, even more than usual for a newspaper owner. He worked out of his home, a church and even one of my offices in Mabel, which I offered as a resource since it had a working Internet connection, by then a necessity for newspaper production.

He documented the flood and its aftermath. One story, headlined “Rushford, Pawlenty’s Katrina,” made an impact throughout the Midwest and was cited by some legislators for triggering the special session that led to financial aid for Rushford. As a result of his coverage, he was once again honored by his peers, who awarded him the Frank Premack award, which is often called Minnesota’s Pulitzer Prize.

Several years after the flood, we started meeting again to discuss the sale of the newspaper. As Schober noted in his last column for the Tri-County Record, after nearly 35 years or ownership, he had produced more than 21,000 pages for local readers, agonized through 3,488 Tuesday deadlines, attended 1,785 community meetings and hauled 170,000 pounds of newspapers in and out of the office.

He was ready.

Still, it took a while for us to reach an agreement because there is a lot of uncertainty — even more so then — about the future of newspapers and it was difficult to reach an agreed-upon value. It isn’t necessarily the influence of the Internet that most people talk about or the recession that was a drag at the time. Small towns have changed over the years with fewer hometown businesses, more competition in media and a growing number of residents who don’t base their lives around the community. The uncertainty held me back.

Schober worked with me, though, because he felt I had traditional journalism values, something that was important to him. Little did he know, he was a big influence on those values as I admired his unwavering principles that guided him through his years at his newspaper, even when they caused conflict or retribution.

Those traditional journalism values, which you could say also have an emphasis on truth, honesty and justice, seem to be fading as our industry becomes more about marketing and the dollar than community and the human connection.

Despite Schober’s faith in my traditional grounding, I feel less sure that I am living up to that optimism as market forces squeeze the traditional newspaper, spreading myself, and my staff, so thin that it is difficult to keep the grounding that makes for a successful partnership between the newspaper and the community.

Still, as Schober did, we care and we have a team of professional journalists with ethical standards, office staff with community knowledge and experienced marketers to work with the community members on shared success.

As Schober wrote in his last newspaper article before he gave up ownership, no Internet, phone gimmick, signboard or mail piece can take the place of a local newspaper staffed by local people that care about the community.

“There’s a human touch we need to pass from generation to generation or we’ll all become irrelevant vapor-ware,” he wrote.

Schober touched me and even though he won’t be around to share his wisdom in person, his influence, his values and his vision — his relevance that is so much more than vapor-ware — will continue to guide me as long as I’m around.