For the first time in more than a quarter century, we’re missing something pretty special in The Forum. There is no “Neighbors” column in the paper today.

As many of you know, we lost beloved “Neighbors” columnist Bob Lind on Aug. 2 following complications from a stroke.

Some of you might be surprised at his passing. After all, haven’t you been reading his columns over the entire month of August? Well, that was Bob. He always worked ahead and had columns turned in, months in advance. If editors had “teacher’s pets,” Bob was probably it.

He even wrote a column from his hospital bed where he was recovering from the stroke he suffered in April. He wanted to keep his loyal readers in the loop and also praise the dedicated health care workers who took such good care of him.

Bob Lind retired in 1998, but continued to write his "Neighbors" column until his death in August. David Samson / The Forum
Bob Lind retired in 1998, but continued to write his "Neighbors" column until his death in August. David Samson / The Forum

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Bob's penchant for getting stories turned in early became legendary around the newsroom.

For example, on those occasions when I’d actually get a story turned in days in advance of my deadline, Features Editor Ryan Johnson would say, “Wow, OK. Thanks Bob.” I considered it the highest compliment to be compared to Bob, even for that brief moment of non-procrastination.

As sad as we are to see the end of the "Neighbors" column, The Forum is hoping to carry on Bob’s legacy of connecting people and telling good news stories. The new column is called, “Back Then with Tracy Briggs.”

While in no way can I ever begin to replace Bob, through the column, I hope to give you a place to continue to share your stories, recollections, memories or musings. So please, keep them coming!

If you have a story that you would have sent to Bob over the past 25 years — something that you would have liked him to dig into or simply share with others — please email it to me at tracy.briggs@forumcomm.com, or mail to: Tracy Briggs, The Forum, 101 5th St N, Fargo, ND 58102.

Please include your name, phone number and email address so I can contact you. I can’t promise I’ll be in touch as fast as Bob might have been, but I’ll do my best to try and fill his very big shoes.

Also, I plan to occasionally include stories from our Forum archives that might not normally generate a full-sized feature, but might be worth revisiting in short, column format. You’d be surprised what I find when I’m going through the microfilm researching other stories. For example, this past year when I was researching the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, I also ran across a photo of two lovely upper-crust women in wide-brimmed hats holding a raccoon, accompanied by the headline, “Raccoon is latest society pet.”

The new "Back Then with Tracy Briggs" column hopes to feature quirky news stories from the past, including this mention of upper-crust women in 1920 choosing raccoons as pets. The Forum would also love your ideas. Forum archives
The new "Back Then with Tracy Briggs" column hopes to feature quirky news stories from the past, including this mention of upper-crust women in 1920 choosing raccoons as pets. The Forum would also love your ideas. Forum archives

Clearly, someone needs to get to the bottom of this story, even if it is 100 years late.

I’d like to think it would make Bob happy to know we’re running with his storytelling torch and his belief that everyone needs a little good news with their daily paper. He considered journalism the highest calling. And with a nod above, I’ll try to make him proud. But editors, don’t hold your breath for any early deadlines.

Do you have a story to share?

If you have a story that you would have sent to Bob Lind over the past 25 years — something that you would have liked him to dig into or simply share with others — please consider emailing it to tracy.briggs@forumcomm.com, or mail it to: Tracy Briggs, The Forum, 101 5th St N, Fargo, ND 58102. Please include your name, phone number and email address so someone can contact you.