John Rink, former Post general manager, dies at 96

Published 12:10 am Saturday, August 19, 2023

SALISBURY — John Rink, who retired as general manager from the Salisbury Post in 1997 after spending 59 years at the paper, died Tuesday, Aug. 15, at home.

Rink and his companion of nearly 50 years, Ann Weatherford, lived in two houses on lakefront property, and where they shared a love of the outdoors and their dog, Molly.

On Friday, Weatherford said Rink had a fall on July 27 and from then on, he stayed in a hospital bed in her home so he had constant supervision.

“So very many people are going to miss him,” she said, “We had wonderful times, traveling for the paper, so many memories for me. He was extremely independent, things needed to be his way, but he was a wonderful man and we had many great years together.”

Mike Bostian, who has held as many as half of the circulation and business positions the Post offers, said when he started at the Post more than 45 years ago, Rink took him under his wing.

“They put me to work, but I loved it,” he said. “Now, everything I know about this place, I know because of John.” The two men didn’t just work together, but they were neighbors, friends, and over time, Bostian joined in working for Boy Scout Troop 448, where Rink was an active, contributing participant until earlier this year, when he finally had to drop back a little.

“We’d visit every week,” said Bostian. “He’d come to my house two or three times a week for year just to check on things at the Post and to see how I was. Eventually I started going over there to check on him. I’m really going to miss him.”

Bostian said he has a multitude of memories of working with Rink on projects, both for the Post and for their church, Coburn Memorial on South Main Street. One of those projects involved working on raising the roof at the church parsonage.

“The bells rang while we were working, and I said John, it’s noon, it’s dinner time,” said Bostian, “He looked at me and asked if I had anything to eat. I said no. And he said, ‘then it’s not dinner time, it’s just noon, keep working.’ That still makes me laugh.” Bostian said it was also an indication of Rink’s work ethic — “he didn’t believe in sitting still for any length of time.”

Growing up, Rink had three brothers and three sisters, and he said in the past that they would all spend their free time either helping their father at his grocery store on North Main Street or on the family farm. He would say while in high school, he remembered on Saturdays he would work for his dad all day, play in a dance band at night, then report to the Post to deliver papers the next morning.

“I got in bed at 9 a.m.,” Rink said in an interview when he retired, “and dad got me up at 9:30 a.m. to go to church.”

Rink was devoted to both the Boy Scouts and the Lions, both of which have recognized him through the years for his dedication. He attended Catawba College under the GI bill, earning a degree in business and accounting while still working for the Post. He often made donations to the college, at one point giving more than $100,000 during a college campaign, and over the years he paid for a number of tuitions as well.

His name is still remembered in the halls of the Post offices, though faces have changed. He became business manager in 1952, and during his tenure said he always “tried to spend the Post’s money as if it was mine.”
“John seemed to be everywhere at the Post in his heyday — from OK’ing invoices in his office to putting on coveralls to do maintenance work. The man was tireless,” recalled former Post Editor Elizabeth G. Cook. “He was also an unstinting steward of the Hurleys’ money. I remember being called to his office as a young reporter to discuss an expense I had submitted. No, he said, the Post would not reimburse me for the shoes I ruined tromping through a muddy field to cover a train derailment. I should’ve worn boots.
“He was right, of course,” she said. “The longer we worked together, the more I respected the wisdom of John’s ways. He was a straight-shooter with a powerful work ethic.  May he rest in peace.”
In an interview just over one year ago, when the Post’s printing press left the building, Rink talked about his years at the Post. He remembered that he started at 11 years old as a part-time newspaper carrier. By the time he was 14, he had gotten his working papers and was coming to the paper to work during his lunch hour at school.
“Oh, I did a little of everything,” he said. “I did electrical repairs, plumbing repairs, I cleaned bathrooms — basically anything the Hurley boys didn’t want to do, I did.” J.F. Hurley Jr., whose grandfather founded the paper, was clearly Rink’s idol, and he made it clear when he said, “There have been two perfect men on this earth: Jesus Christ and J.F. Hurley Jr.” J.F. “Jimmy” Hurley III took over the paper from Hurley Jr. before the family sold the paper in 1997.
Weatherford said the plans are for the funeral to be held at 11 a.m. at Coburn Memorial Church on Saturday, Aug. 26.