A quarter-century seems like a long time to do anything — except when it's something you love, and when every day is new and inspiring, and fuels your curiosity and creativity.
This week, the Towson Times is experiencing a milestone as Loni Ingraham, whose name has graced these pages since 1987 as a reporter, editor, columnist, correspondent, community representative … and even occasional photographer, hangs up her pen and paper with us.
Those are the titles, but the job Loni has accomplished most completely is that of storyteller, whose tales of local residents, events and issues have chronicled the lives, times, struggles, setbacks and victories of the greater Towson community.
It's no surprise that, last week, the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations honored Loni for her service as part of the association's holiday meeting.
Nor is it a surprise that every facet of the community represented there — community associations, the Towson Chamber of Commerce, elected officials, school advocates and business leaders — all expressed their appreciation for the way in which Loni has treated them for that quarter-century.
In that time, not all of those community interests have gotten along, of course, but they all have found ways to work together, explore common goals and put aside differences to move forward for the betterment of all.
That's a credit to them and a credit to Loni.
More than one person at the GTCCA gathering noted how Loni has helped foster a spirit of cooperation, and the sense of small-town community within a large suburban county seat.
Towson is indeed the hub of activity in Baltimore County, and Loni's reporting has reflected that bustle with stories of local and regional impact.
Yet she was also adept at describing every Fourth of July parade and Towson Garden Day with equal zeal while sharing stories that weaved a bond between neighbors.
She also covered controversial issues, such as zoning controversies, rental-property conflicts, school issues and crime, while taking the responsibility of presenting those stories without reveling in their inherent conflict and strife.
Loni understood the nature of the business, that reporting the bad with the good is part of the deal — you can't tell a community's story without both.
She also knew that while some reporters might seize upon community conflicts and problems, wielding a shovel to dramatically deepen riffs between people and their interests, her skill was in using a trowel to smooth the footing for common ground.
In her career with the Towson Times and several Patuxent Publishing publications (Loni has also worked for the Arbutus Times, the Northeast Booster and others) she has garnered literally dozens of regional and national honors from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Suburban Newspapers of America.
Loni would say her greater prize comes when a story sparks interest in a community cause, or motivates change or action from elected officials, or shares a story about a local citizen with an extraordinary tale or a fascinating experience.
This week, her colleagues at the Towson Times have been thinking about our favorite Loni stories — maybe the tale of the little boy finding a resident's long-lost class ring. Or the story of the dying neighbor whose "bucket list" included motorcycle rides and sky diving. Or the faithful reporting of the saga between Towson University students and local residents regarding rental property, the story of the artist who helps cancer patients express their hopes and pains, or countless other profiles of people, places and issues.
When all is said and done, though, our favorite Loni story is … the next one.
Indeed, while she's retiring, we hope and expect we haven't seen the last of her byline here. We hold that hope for ourselves, and for the Towson community.
Until then, we thank her for her hard work, devotion, attitude and passion for journalism.
And we'll work to maintain the standard she has helped establish: to serve the community and help remind our readers that they live in a special place, full of challenges and issues and rewards and progress.
And unique, wonderful characters. One of them is Loni Ingraham.