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Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Opening Remarks - A Farewell to the Original Beachcomber Editor


Contributing Editor Bruce Collier writes:

I started writing for The Beachcomber in 2002. Then movie reviewer Ritch Brinkley told me they were looking to hire someone to review restaurants. I contacted Leah and she gave me a tryout, writing about a place in south Walton. I ate lunch there, certain they all knew the purpose of my visit. They didn’t, and I got the job. The place closed long ago, not because of my review; in fact there have been about five restaurants since in that same spot. In time Leah became my dining companion for many restaurant reviews, holding bartenders in three counties to the highest possible standards when it came to making an Old Fashioned.

I learned most of what I know about journalistic writing from Leah. She wasn’t always diplomatic—in fact, she was never diplomatic—but she made it plain that it was a skill worth acquiring, and one that not everyone can do. She inspired me to think I just might be able to make a living writing. As it turns out, she was right. Thanks for everything, Leah, and I hope you have found the perfect Old Fashioned.

Many longtime readers have expressed their sadness over the passing of our founding editor Leah Stratmann. We thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments and encourage you to make a donation in her honor to Shelter House and/or Muscogee Indian Tribe.


Joni Williams began her writing career in the late ‘90s as a real estate reporter.

But her foodish ways soon led her to venture into the wonderful world of food and beverage writing, and she now spends her days happily eating and drinking everything under the sun, all in the name of journalism.

Of German descent, Williams grew up learning to appreciate the nuances of various brews, and has long thought dining reviews should regularly include beer pairings in addition to wine. She is thrilled to see beer finally get its due respect right here in The Beachcomber.

A former columnist and restaurant reviewer, Williams’ byline has appeared in several local newspapers as well as the Miami New Times and the Chicago Sun Times. Williams currently serves as the dining expert for Condo Owner, a regional magazine to which she has regularly contributed since 2003, and works as an area newspaper reporter.


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