The newspaper you are holding in your hands will likely be the final print issue of the West End Word. At least for now.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further reduced an already marginal revenue stream that makes this newspaper possible. And of course, the health and safety of this company’s employees are of paramount importance.

The West End Word has been serving the Central West End and the central “Arch to the Innerbelt” corridor for nearly 50 years. The paper was begun in 1972 by a small group of citizens determined to rescue the CWE from what they saw as an encroaching decline. Their mission included enhancement of community and preservation of historic and lovely turn-of-the-century housing.

The founding partnership included Robert Duffy, Ellie Chapman, Linda Eyerman and Jack Lowell. Mary Bartley, Suzanne Goell, Margaret Grant and Renni Shuter joined soon after. Nicki Dwyer wrote a column and sold advertising for the Word in the 1980s.

Goell purchased the Word from the original group in the early years. Ellen Cusumano bought the paper from Goell in the late 1980s. In 1989, Jeff Fister’s family business, Virginia Publishing, purchased the Word and expanded it to adjacent communities. In 2011, Virginia Publishing sold to Webster-Kirkwood Times, Inc., current publishers of the West End Word.

“I am so very sorry to hear this news. The West End Word has been one of my most reliable sources of business since I started advertising in every issue back in 1983,” wrote Central West End realtor, Paul Mittelstadt in an email to his account representative, Dennie O’Dowd.

“I must offer you a bit of encouragement, however,” added Mittelstadt. “There have been at least three times in the years since 1983 that the West End Word has announced its termination. In each case there was an unexpected rescuing entity or event that came in to pick up the pieces and carry the paper on to new successes.”

There are now so many, many unknowns in all of our lives as we walk day by day through this valley of fears, health challenges and social distancing.

Our favorite dining spots are either closed or offering curb side service. Our churches, arts venues, many health services and even gyms have moved to online-only programming. We are told to shelter in place, to separate from our fellow humans by at least six feet and to constantly wash our hands and wipe touch surfaces with disinfectant.

Will there be a resurrection of the West End Word once more?

We cannot predict right now. For the moment, we plan to maintain at least some limited online presence for the Word.

We do express gratitude for the loyal clients who have made this newspaper possible. I want to name names, but in so doing I am sure to offend by omission. So I just say a heartfelt, “thank you!” I also thank the readers whose response to those paid messages have justified the investment in the Word by the realtors and others.

We at Webster-Kirkwood Times, Inc. have been privileged to carry on the West End Word in the Central West End, Midtown, Downtown, Skinker-DeBaliviere, University City and Clayton for these past nine years.

As a long-ago resident of the Central West End, this community holds a special place in my heart. Good health to all and may we meet again when we can shake hands and give hugs.