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Amy Kepferle: ‘So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu’

After 26 years covering Bellingham's arts scene, I'm passing the baton

Amy Kepferle
Amy Kepferle
By Amy Kepferle Staff Reporter

I didn’t intend to start this goodbye column with a headline culled from a song in the movie “The Sound of Music.” 

But as I re-read the lyrics to Oscar Hammerstein’s “So Long, Farewell,” I realized they were relevant to my decision to step down as A&E editor as of Dec. 29.

“I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye,” one of the Von Trapp children sings as the siblings attempt to stay up late during a big party. Another croons: “I’m glad to go, I cannot tell a lie; I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly.”

Both of the emotions expressed in these lyrics — resigned acceptance and a joyful giving in to a period of rest — are where my mind is right now. I’m not leaving the party forever, but I’m definitely ready to reserve the right to sneak out early and not have to write a story about what took place during the festivities.

After two years working at Cascadia Daily News and 24 years at iterations of the Bellingham-based newspapers that preceded it — The Every Other Weekly, Bellingham Weekly, and, for 17 years, Cascadia Weekly — I’m ready for an extended break while I figure out my next chapter.

I’m not yet sure who I am without the “A&E editor” title affixed to my name, but I’m excited to find out.  

photo  From right, Amy Kepferle, Erik Burge, Ellen Clark and Christian Martin celebrate during a Bellingham Weekly Christmas party in 2005. (Photo courtesy of Amy Kepferle)  

Life is short, take chances

Aside from interviewing scores of interesting (and sometimes famous) people, and advising the public on what to do with their free time, one of the many joys of my job has been meeting co-workers who have become some of my closest friends.

In fact, I met the love of my life, Erik Burge  — who’s currently CDN’s distribution manager — when he came into the Bellingham Weekly office seeking a paycheck for freelance writing he’d done for that paper.

Bellingham Weekly and Cascadia Weekly music editor Carey Ross was just at our house for Christmas dinner. In 2022, we also had Thanksgiving together, along with former CDN news reporter Julia Lerner, and Bill Kamphausen, a gifted graphic designer who kept Cascadia Weekly looking spiffy even during the darkest days of the pandemic.

That dinner was the last time I saw Bill. Two weeks later, he became trapped in deep snow while snowboarding in the Pan Dome area of the Mt. Baker Ski Area, and died at the age of 44.

Bill was someone I thought was invincible. He was funny, and smart, was a dedicated dog dad and was always up for an adventure. At an overflowing memorial service at Paws for a Beer — where he had worked part-time as a bartender — I realized Bill hadn’t come to our house for Thanksgiving because he didn’t have anywhere else to go, but because he genuinely wanted to be around us. We still have a beer in the fridge from the six-pack he brought over that night. We can’t bring ourselves to drink it or pour it out.

photo  Amy Kepferle and graphic designer Bill Kamphausen prepare for a final proofing of the Cascadia Weekly in advance of sending the file to the printer in 2019. The office in the Herald Building was small, and editors would squeeze behind Bill or fellow graphic designer Jesse Kinsman to look at each page onscreen. (Photo courtesy of Carey Ross)  

His death reminded me that life is so very short, and precious, and pursuing what comes next might mean taking a gargantuan leap of faith and seeing what happens.

To that end, I’ve got some sizable non-writing projects in the works, and 2024 is looking to be a year of massive change. 

But first, I plan to take some time not making plans. If that means seeing a movie matinee on a Tuesday, playing Solitaire on my Kindle for six hours straight, reading a Stephen King novel in one day, or deep-cleaning the fridge on a whim, so be it.

Please keep reading

I’m proud of the work I’ve done at CDN, and am agog at the talent of my fellow reporters and editors, most of whom don multiple hats as they cover breaking news, like the recent Terminal Building fire, while continuing to produce fresh, compelling content.

While out reporting, I have witnessed firsthand how positively people respond to the Cascadia Daily News, and how much they appreciate having a local newsroom dedicated to telling the stories affecting our community. It’s a good feeling to know we’re making a difference.

It’s gonna be real weird picking up a paper and not seeing my byline, as well as realizing I had no hand in copy editing the finished product — something I’ve done for all of the papers I’ve been associated with, including my first newspaper job at Boise Weekly.

I will let my successor, Cocoa Laney, introduce herself in the coming days in her own way, in her own words. Suffice it to say I think it was a good hire, and I feel confident she’ll help continue to make CDN’s Living section a place to go for a good read.

Before I say a final “so long, farewell,” I’d like to give props to the many CDN contributors who have helped bolster the Living section with profiles, far-ranging music events and analysis, restaurant and book reviews, and various columns. It’s been a pleasure to be your editor.

To the people who have allowed me into their homes, galleries, theaters and other sacred spaces and shared details of your life in order to help me better tell your stories, I am forever thankful. It’s been an honor to stay in the A&E race for the last quarter-century, but I’m finally ready to pass the baton.

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