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‘There and Back Again’

West Memphis native returns from abroad to take lead reporter position at The Times

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West Memphis native returns from abroad to take lead reporter position at The Times

By RALPH HARDIN

[email protected]

The Evening Times would like to proudly announce the newest addition to our team with the arrival of new lead reporter Don Wilburn. Wilburn will be taking over reporting responsibilities from John Rech, who has dutifully served The Times for the past eight years.

Don is a West Memphis native returning to Crittenden County after nearly two decades living overseas in South America and Europe. A graduate of WMHS and once Presiding Judge at Southland Greyhound Park, Don says he “sought more out of life” in his younger years and when the opportunity came to spend one year in Brazil back in 2004, he quickly packed his bags and as he put it “never looked back.”

It would appear so, as that one year became 18, in which he has been making a living as an English professor at two local schools and a federal university in the northeastern Brazilian state of Piauí where he lived.

When asked about his experiences, Don said the differences between life here in Arkansas and south of the equator, what he would miss most from his former home and of course what he missed most about his birthplace. He had this to say: “When you travel abroad I guess the most surprising aspect for me at first was actually how similar we all are. I mean, we all drive cars, go to movies, and are addicted to our phones. We all like to go out to eat or have the occasional beer or go on a road trip. We all love our families and cherish our friends. People are just people. And we tend to all need or want the same things.

See REPORTER, page A3

WILBURN REPORTER

From page A1

As far as what I missed most from here, it would hands down have to be the food! You just can’t get the same ingredients in some places and I would have given anything at times for a piping hot bowl of chili or a rack of Memphis style ribs!

What will I miss the most from Brazil? Everything! My friends there very much became my family in lieu of my own back home. But also, no doubt, the absence of winter. It’s a tropical place. So the past 18 years has been sorta like a never ending summer for me. I am definitely not looking forward to winter this year. I don’t even own a jacket!”

What sort of angle might Don’s viewpoint as the newest team member here, at the Times and in what ways his experiences might contribute and shape his work at The Evening Times?

“I definitely think my time away has given me a different perspective on things, and how we as Americans approach daily life in general. How perhaps we don’t often even see a lot of what we take for granted. I spent a long time looking at my home from the outside in and I think the readers of The Times might enjoy what I have to say and the different way I see things. At least I hope so. I look forward to getting to know my home again and being actively involved in the community, checking out what’s changed, for better or worse, visiting some of the new restaurants in town, working with local animal shelters, and even catching a few Blue Devils ´ football games. I want Times readers to know that I will have an ‘open door policy’ to my reporting as well as an open mind and they should feel free to contact me should the need arise. I look forward to serving my community to the best of my abilities and hope that readers will find my articles informative as well as entertaining.”

Here at The Times, we feel that Don will certainly have the opportunity to accomplish all that he is looking forward to and more and are proud to welcome our new colleague back home. Look for him at many of your local events, municipal meeting and community gatherings in the days, weeks and months to come.

Have a story idea or just want to welcome him home, feel free to contact Mr. Wilburn via email at [email protected] com.

And on a personal note, I’ve known the guy for more than 25 years and don’t let that gruff exterior fool you. He’s a pretty nice guy. I tried to get him to smile for his photo but he explained that when it comes to getting the news out to the public, he plans to be “all business.”

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