John Vass, Jr., the web editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, will retire from the newspaper on May 23 after nearly 49 years of employment.
Vass is the longest-serving current employee of the Chattanooga Publishing Company. He started as a teenager in 1965 as a cub reporter, writing obituaries and covering the police beat. He went on to become business editor of the paper before being named web editor in 2011.
"Johnny will be greatly missed in the newsroom," said Alison Gerber, managing editor of the Times Free Press. "He's a wealth of information about Chattanooga, and he knows the newspaper well. He's done many jobs here over the decades: obituary writer, reporter, business editor, web editor.
"He's also one of the most positive, glass-is-half-full people you'll ever meet," Gerber added. "His energy and enthusiasm is unmatched."
Vass said the Times Free Press has been a major part of his life, and where he made friendships with Buddy Houts and J.B. Collins.
"It was the place that I announced my engagement to Chris Sherrill with Roy McDonald giving it a favorable nod," he said. "It's also where I announced I was fighting cancer, and in each case the paper and its people have been totally supportive."
After nearly 49 years at the newspaper, Vass' retirement precedes his 67th birthday, June 13.
"I feel good about the paper, the website, and the people I've worked with who are continuing here," Vass told his colleagues in announcing his retirement on Monday. "I'm counting on them welcoming me back in to visit."