A writer who chronicled the Magic Valley’s triumphs, foibles and transformations for almost three decades will retire Aug. 31.

Times-News Opinion Editor Steve Crump, 59, started at the newspaper as sports editor in 1983, later serving as city editor, features editor and features writer. He has penned most of the newspaper’s editorials and edited its Opinion pages since 2007. His “Don’t Ask Me” column has appeared in the Times-News since 1990, and its “You Don’t Say” counterpart since 2008.

Why call it quits now?

Crump was married six years ago to a woman whose joint-custody arrangement ties her to Boise, and the couple has commuted between Twin Falls and Boise since then.

“We decided the time is right to actually move in together,” Crump said. He intends to do some freelance writing in retirement and hopes for adjunct work at a Treasure Valley college.

Crump’s face is a familiar one to Magic Valley folks. They’ve searched for a life-size cutout of Crump at the Twin Falls County Fair for a chance to win prizes. They’ve listened to his commencement addresses at 14 south-central Idaho high schools. They’ve seen him frequently at service club podiums and on panels questioning political candidates.

The nation got one good look at Crump, too. A printing error at the beginning of a 2000 press run superimposed Crump’s mug shot onto a photo of a fire, so that his smiling face floated above the flames. At least one reader sent a clipping to Jay Leno, and it ended up as comedy fodder for “The Tonight Show.”

Crump co-authored a 1997 book — a collection of columns by him and another Times-News columnist — dubbed “Animal Husbandry and Other Social Graces.” That volume prompted readers’ own storytelling.

“People would come up and say, ‘I remember when you wrote that column, and this happened as a consequence,’” Crump said this week.

A man at the county fair told Crump that recalling his humorous column about holding up a dog to clean eggs off the ceiling helped the man through a difficult moment in his mom’s long illness. In the past couple of years, Crump has received emails from soldiers in Iraq telling him they’d shared his columns as “a little bit of home away from home,” Crump said.

During his time in the Times-News’ features department, Crump’s hunt for story ideas took him to small-town coffee shops to talk to the locals. He admired pictures of their grandkids and cried with them when they lost a loved one.

“That was the best part of my Magic Valley experience, hands down,” Crump said. “And I got to drink an awful lot of bad coffee.”

 

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