You may not have always agreed with him, but former Hearthstone Town and Country newspaper publisher Roderick Wood wasn’t afraid to share his opinion – whether you liked it or not.
Rod passed away last week and even though he sold the newspaper and retired in 2006, he continued to pen his opinion for the Hearthstone Town and Country and later the Town and Country newspaper until illness forced him to lay down his pen.
His thoughts brought insight to many readers and helped some to form or reevaluate their own opinions. Rod wasn’t afraid to anger a few readers along the way who didn’t share his opinion on a particular subject.
Wood had a dream and along with his wife, Wendy, started the Hearthstone Press in 1995 in their home. From that humble beginning, the newspaper would compete locally with the Gannett Publishing-owned Town and Country newspaper.
The newspaper, as an industry, was beginning to decline and to cut expenses, the Town and Country began slimming down local coverage and features. Many in the community back then felt that the days of the Town and Country newspaper were limited. Wendy and Rod wanted to fill the void that the cutbacks left and ensure that a public medium would continue for local readers. In 1997 the Woods went beyond competing with the local newspaper that had been published in Pennsburg since 1899 – they purchased it from Gannett Publishing and combined the mastheads to create The Hearthstone Town and Country. Rod served as the publisher until the end of 2005.
Rod was conservative. In 2005 he wrote: “What is it that makes the United States such a special place compared to other nations around the world and why is there so much human suffering in the modern age? The answer has to be that we are fortunate to live in a free country that embraces capitalism as the antidote for poverty. The freer the country is in its economic affairs, the more prosperous it is, and the more totalitarian and collectivistic a country is, the poorer it is.”
Sharing thoughts like that would spark a conversation and, on occasion, a debate. Many people would be (and still are) afraid to air their opinions; whether its fear of starting an argument or the urge to be politically correct. But that’s what the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is all about. After all, it’s hard to make a learned decision when you only hear one side of an issue. Rod was an intelligent man. Agree or disagree, you wanted to hear his take on an issue.
In one of his last Editorials, he wrote: “Let’s be thankful for the sacrifices of those who won independence from Britain and who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Let’s be thankful to our families and ancestors for coming here and making something of the opportunity they had. And let’s also be thankful for the soldiers and sailors who have protected this country...”
Was he conservative? Yes. Did he believe in capitalism? Yes. Was he a patriot? Yes. Did he save a local newspaper from its demise? Yes.