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Associate Editor of Gas Engine Magazine Says Farewell

by Christian Williams


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I’m not one for long goodbyes, so I’ll do my best to keep this one brief. As some of you already know, this issue will be my last as associate editor of Gas Engine Magazine. It marks the end of one of the most interesting chapters of my life; one that will always fill a special place in my heart.

I’ve mentioned before that when I started at GEM in July 2007, my knowledge of antique gas engines was essentially non-existent. With some mental prodding, I can recall walking through the grounds of the Early Day Engine Club Show in Sandwich, Ill., as a 10-year-old boy, and listening to the curious rhythm of the hit-and-miss engines on display. Who knew that 19 years later, I’d actually find out what it was I was looking at and listening to that day? Life’s a funny journey that way.

Over the last four years, I’ve met some fine people. I’ve learned that collecting gas engines is just the common thread between the folks in this hobby; the true benefits of this hobby are the friendships born out of that common interest.

Just three weeks after I started, I wandered the grounds at the Tri-State Gas Engine & Tractor Show in Portland, Ind., wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into. But as anyone new to this hobby quickly finds out, it isn’t hard to find a veteran collector who is willing to be patient with you and show you the ropes. For me, that collector was Dave Rotigel. From the moment he introduced himself and asked if I wanted a beer, I knew I’d found the ideal mentor.

In all seriousness, Dave and the rest of the ATIS group couldn’t have been more welcoming and supportive. They patiently answered my novice questions, and helped me understand what makes these engines so interesting to so many people. While I never told them this personally, I described the ATIS folks to my non-gas engine collecting friends and family as the people who would have been building these engines a century ago – that’s how innovative and technically brilliant I think they are. Of course, I’ve met many more collectors along the way who fit that description, further bolstering my opinion that antique gas engine collectors and restorers are some of the smartest people you’ll ever meet.

I also have to single out Editor-in-Chief Richard Backus for taking a chance on me four years ago. I know I wasn’t the ideal person to run the day-to-day tasks of this magazine, but Richard recognized an ambition and willingness to learn that not even I recognized at the time. He is the rare editor who strikes a perfect balance between supervising and allowing one space to grow on their own. That mix of guidance and latitude helped me discover and hone the skill set that I’ll be using in the next chapter of my life as Editor-in-Chief of Utne Reader, one of our company’s larger magazines.

Finally, the future of GEM is in great hands as current Farm Collector assistant editor Beth Beavers will be making the natural transition to associate editor of both Gas Engine Magazine and Farm Collector. She’s excited to learn what I’ve learned over the past four years, and I know you’ll be happily willing to teach her.

Thanks for everything, everyone, and I’ll see you down the road!