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October 27, 2011

Sun sets on 31-year Sun career

This past August I marked 40 years in the newspaper business, including more than 31 years in Baltimore, first at The Evening Sun and, after 1993, at The Sun. This week will be my last. I am taking a buyout, extended by the newspaper at my request, and retiring.

When I started in the business in 1971, we worked on manual typewriters and carried a pocket full of change so we could call in stories from the nearest pay phone. My first daily - the New Bedford Tip O'NeillStandard-Times - was still setting advertising copy on their old hot-lead Linotype machines when I joined up. We never saw a computer there. On deadline, editors ripped stories out of my typewriter three paragraphs at a time. "Cut and paste" in those days involved 10-inch shears and a glue pot.  

Today, of course, it's all about computers and smart phones and video. A couple of weeks ago I took my new iPhone and filed notes and photos from Dinosaur Park in Laurel as paleontologists dug up a 110-million-year-old fossil. I've written The Sun's online Maryland Weather Blog - the paper's first online blog - for seven years. And I'm a tweeter, too.

It's all been great fun. I have ridden in limos with Presidential candidates (okay, one - George H.W., back in New Bedford during the 1980 Massachusetts primary), met and interviewed senators and congressmen, governors and mayors, Nobel Prize winners, scientists, astronomers, astronauts and many, many ordinary people somehow caught up in the news. 

I lugged my Underwood portable typewriter to Newport, R.I. to cover Klaus von Bulow's first trial for The Evening Sun. I watched and reported on at least three space shuttle launches, and the opening of three 17th-century lead coffins in St. Mary's City. And on some very sad days, I wrote the lead stories on the sinking of the Pride of Baltimore, the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle accidents, and the closing of The Evening Sun.

Over the years I have traveled on assignment to report on the appalling health care system in the Biplane rideMarshall Islands, a U.S. dependancy in the Pacific; the impact of mad cow disease on ranchers and stockyard operators in Alberta, Canada; the nanotechnology revolution at labs in California, and a solar eclipse in West Texas. I went to sea to cover the Navy's salvage of the turret of the Civil War ironclad Monitor, off North Carolina, and nearly lost my lunch on assignment in an aerobatic biplane (photo, left) and a Maryland DNR seaplane on bay patrol.   

I've never revealed this to the newspaper, but at one point, after I had covered the city schools for a time, I was invited by Bob Embry to apply for the top public relations job in the city school system. I got as far as an interview with then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer, in his City Hall office. My ideas about providing reporters with the truth - good and (when necessary) bad - about the city schools were somewhat out of synch with the mayor's, and my candidacy went down, mercifully, in flames.

I was always proud to work for the Baltimore Sun - evening and morning. Unlike the New Bedford Standard-Times, people had heard of The Sun. From anywhere in the country, they returned my phone calls. I was proud that a newspaper our size saw the importance of maintaining bureaus in seven foreign capitals. Our smart, brave correspondants sought out unique stories, and gave us a fresh perspective on events and people, from war zones and other places where most of us would never venture. We had our own Washington bureau and a national staff that could go anywhere in the country where there were interesting and important stories to be written. 

The industry has changed, and such things are more difficult, or impossible. But The Sun remains a place where smart, talented and energetic reporters, photographers and editors work every day to keep Marylanders informed, and the public officials in our democracy under Thirtyscrutiny. There are still no other newsrooms in the state equipped to provide the kind of state and local coverage this one does. Most of what you read or hear or see elsewhere is derivative. Our  work at The Sun is worthy of your support, both as readers and advertisers.

I am closing my career to - as we so often write about others -  "spend more time with my family." My wife retired in June after 30 years teaching children in both special and elementary education in Baltimore County schools. Our own two kids grew up and went to school here; they've amazed us with their own accomplishments, and made us proud. And now our first grandchild - a boy - is due, literally, tomorrow.

The Maryland Weather blog will continue, online and in print, but with others at the helm. I plan to continue to Tweet at, although I really need to get rid of that picture.    

I am thankful to the old A.S. Abell Company for giving me a chance; to the eight publishers and countless sharp-eyed editors I've worked for since 1980, and to Baltimore for being such a great place to do this work. 

Thanks, also, to everyone who has ever answered my calls, agreed to an interview or just read my stories or weather blog posts over the years. I hope you learned as much reading them as I did reporting and writing them. My sincere apologies to those whose names I have misspelled, or who may have wished I'd stayed in Massachusetts.

May we all enjoy better weather.

(PHOTOS: Top: A private word with Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, D-Mass., at the opening of the Kennedy Library, Boston 1979 [That's me on the right with the '70s moustache]; Middle: An aerobatic ride for an air show story, Martin Airport, about 1993 [still with the moustache]' Bottom: my work home.)


Posted by Frank Roylance at 12:17 AM | | Comments (59)
Categories: Notes to readers


Frank -

So sorry to hear you're retiring. I've enjoyed your blog online and will miss reading it every day. You've always been informative and entertaining. Best wishes in your retirement!

Happy Retirement! I've always enjoyed reading this weather blog, lots of great info in here, you will be missed!

Godspeed Frank and enjoy your retirement. Thanks for all of the timely information you posted in this blog. I have learned so much from having read it. I look forward to continuing with whomever will be carrying the torch into the future.

Frank, you will be missed, but i know you will be a terrific grandfather!

You will be missed a lot. This is my favorite blog at the Sun. I thank you for your all the years of excellent and informative work, and hope that you have a wonderful retirement with your growing family.

Frank, congratulations on your retirement. Your blog became a normal part of my morning routine... wake up at 6, grab a cup of coffee, something for breakfast and catch up on your blog before going to work. You will definitely be missed. Enjoy your time with the family.

Oh no! I'm glad if this is what works out for you, but personally, this is something I'm finding sad. At least because of you, I'm now aware to watch for ISS flyovers and will try to learn more about meteorology and astronomy.

(one of the captcha words today is "joyless")

As a colleague and a friend, I'll miss your engrossing science stories, quick and accurate weather coverage and bright conversation. Thank you for being unflappable when news broke and for answering my often silly questions. I hope you and your wife fill your passports and days with exciting adventures.

I want you to know that you will truly be missed. Your blog is the first thing I check when I log on in the morning. It is obvious from your sign off piece that you have been blessed with a long and rewarding career that has afforded you significant oppertunities. Here's wishing you a long and joyful retirement. Thank you.

Best wishes on your retirement. I'll miss the blog - I've never thought of myself as especially interested in the weather but I love your writing about it and related topics for years. I've seen the space station with my son several times because of you! Thanks and enjoy the grandchild.

Frank, enjoy your retirement. And enjoy being a GrandDad.

You will be greatly missed. Your blog has always been a great combination of information and enjoyment.

Best wishes for many happy days, though I will miss you. Sounds like a new chapter is opening and change is good. Enjoy your grandson. They have a way of making you young again and it's a wonderful experience. Sunny Skies!!

Happy Retirement!
This has always been one of my favorite blogs. And the first place I turn to when 'interesting' weather is developing.
Thanks for making it great, you will be missed!

I'll miss your informative and witty take on the weather and culture more generally. May you enjoy many happy years in retirement! You've set a high standard not only for journalism but for professionals everywhere. Thanks a lot!

Congratulations from another Maryland Weather follower! I've enjoyed your blog and I will miss your interesting commentary. Enjoy!

Frank, you will be missed! I've enjoyed every one of your 7 years doing the weather blog and all of the great weather information you give us!

Good luck and enjoy your new life!

What can I say, other than, "Thank you, Frank, for all the many years you have given us the gifts of your wit, your wisdom, and your words."

I will sincerely and genuinely miss your insights and sense of wonder so eloquently and artisticly expressed in all of your work - we are all made just that much better for having had the benefit of your work.

May your retirement and the years to follow be rich with abundant joy, laughter, and more of that wisdom you've shared so generously with all of us over the years. My heartfelt congratulations, both on your retirement and pending grandfatherhood, and my best wishes to you and yours always.

Dang Frank, I'll sure miss your articles and blog posts. You are the best dam reporter at The Sun, and have always embodied the best virtues and qualities of the profession. Honesty. Integrity. Fairness. And great contests.

Take care, and I hope you enjoy your retirement.

Laura Kirk

Thank you, Frank, for the education and entertainment. This blog is consistently a bright spot in my day and I'll miss reading your articles. Best wishes to you and your family in this new phase of your life!

Godspeed, Mr. Roylance. I'll miss you here at the blog. Have a wonderful retirement!

Your blog has taught me a lot about meteorology and provided me with many nights of watching ISS flyovers. Congratulations on your retirement!

Sorry to hear you are leaving. I've always enjoyed reading your blogs and stories.
Best of luck in your retirement.

Any chance you could postpone your retirement until after this winter? You are my go to source for weather!

All kidding aside.

Good Luck with the retirement!

Happy Retirement!! I've enjoyed your stories and blog over the years. Best wishes to your family. Congratulations on your expectant grandchild. Blessing abound!

So sorry to hear you will be leaving. I tuned in every day and found your blog to be the most informative weather blog of all of them!

Frank - Best wishes for your retirement... you ran a great blog here.

Thanks Frank.

congrats Frank- good journalism is unfortunately rare these days and you should be proud to have provided it for so long. enjoy the new baby in the family!


I'll miss your wit, perspective, and civility ... oh and your understanding of weather events and phenomena, too. Thanks ... and good luck in your retirement!

Oh wow, Frank....what an unexpected shock! Congratulations, and enjoy your
your well deserved freedom, but I'll really, REALLY miss your byline in my morning paper!! Meanwhile, thanks for your wonderful adventures-in-journalism bio.
For sure you've covered the whole waterfront! Clear skies, Herman
P.S. Please charge for friends and family!

Will miss your blog for sure -- thanks for introducing me to things like space watch & ISS, and all sorts of winter & snow records. I have been something of a weather freak since attempting to construct my own weather station as a grade schooler following the instructions of Raymond Francis Yates!

Just into my own third year of retirement, I can tell you that there will be times when you will miss the job, but they will become fewer and farther between. I wish you and your wife the best of health and happiness in retirement for years to come.

Just one question -- are we losing Eric the Red with you as well? I hope you will have a successor who will meet with his approval as a worthy colleague!

FR REPLIES: Thanks! Not sure yet who will take over the blog. But whoever it is, he/she will have access to Eric's prognostications.

Frank, you are a legend in the best way. Thanks for your contributions to journalism over the years, and for being a great colleague to me!

Very sad to read this! I always enjoyed your pieces.

But enjoy your free time and your grandson.

N-o-o-o-O !

bad for us. good for you, frank. thanks for being here . . . .

Nooooooooooo! Please don't go!

I've never ever submitted a comment, anywhere, but 40 years in the newspaper business, 31 of them with the same employer, warrants extreme actions. Enjoy the extra time with your favorite teacher, with your grandson, and all the friends and family you'd catch up with when you'd gone fishin'. I've become a weather wimp the past few years and your blog has been my go-to source for great info. Thanks, and enjoy retirement!

From one journalist to another, thanks for being such a cool guy on the few occasions we've worked on the same stories. Thanks for all you've done and good luck in retirement.

BTW, are you aware of the Aging Newspaperman's Club? You should join us sometime. (Ask Dave Ettlin.)

Enjoy :)

Thank you for sharing small details and big stories... online and on "dead tree." In recent years, I know my family's life has been enriched (and made safer) by your reporting, writing, and accessibility. Thanks.


God's blessings on your retirement. You will surely be missed. Others may continue the weather blog, but it has been your voice that many of us have come to appreciate and enjoy over the last several years. A blog is a more personal form of journalism, where the readers feel they come to know the author. It is hard to not feel that we are loosing a friend.

Enjoy your new adventure!

Bad news for us, good news for you and your wife- and grandchild!

I hope your successor at this blog has as long and fruitful career as you have.

Frank, it was an honor and privilege to work with you. When I was a young, green reporter starting out at The Sun, I was in awe of you, your writing, your professionalism, and your ability to always maintain your cool through any and all chaos. When I left the paper a few years back, I was still in awe of you for all those same reasons. You made the paper better and inspired the rest of us by example. Congrats on your retirement. I can't think of anyone who deserves it more.

Thanks, Frank. Enjoy spending more time on The Weatherdeck.

Thank you for this awesome weather blog. You are my go to man for Baltimore weather. Especially snowy situations (my favorite!)

Thank you for your wit and knowledge, enjoy the weather wherever you go.

Congratulations and enjoy your retirement! I enjoy many things on this blog, but I'll miss your handy weather warnings appearing in my own blog's margin when I'm not paying attention to what's happening outside.

you produced the highest quality, science oriented interesting pieces. i for one will really miss the integrity and high interest level of your work

Best wishes for your retirement. Your blog was the place I could always trust for weather information when heading out to work in the field and I have thoroughly enjoyed all of your recent articles about the cultural history of Maryland.

My weather prediction: less sun and a little more chill without the reasonable comfort of your voice. If The Sun brings light for all, tonight that light is a little dimmer as a fine star moves on.

Thank you.

Frank - just learned of your retirement. Congrats - and may the years to come be the very best times of your life. I will sorely miss your blogs and articles, but we were darn lucky to have had your contributions as long as we did - and I am glad for you!

Congrats on a fantastic career 'Mr. Frank".

Congratulations, and I know you'll enjoy retirement. Thank goodness the Trib powers-that-be didn't realize what they're losing -- or they'd never agree to a buyout! As a reader, I'm losing yet another reason to keep that subscription going.

I'll miss your blog and commentary, Frank. Your notes are a bright spot in The Sun. Thank you! Wishing you the best in retirement-many sunny days and starry nights!

Congratulations Frank on a fascinating career and on your next chapter, but we will indeed miss you. I've enjoyed your blog immensely, from ISS flyby reminders to local weather history. Enjoy your new life and growing family!

Baltimore will be losing a great champion of science, local and otherwise. Enjoy your retirement. Have always enjoyed your work.

I will surely miss your insights!

Best wishes for an enjoyable retirement!

Blown away by all this. My heartfelt thanks to everyone for their kind words and best wishes. Almost like a glimpse of your obit before you're actually dead. It was all great fun; no regrets. And I'm still around, at 140 characters per. Happy for more followers. Meantime, still waiting for the stork.

Congratulations Frank (Trip)!! I am so happy for you. I see that so many plus myself will really miss your blog and commentaries. However, now you can enjoy being a Grandad, and what could be better, now that you're reitred? The years that follow will be the best ever!! Keep that camera close by at all times. Lots of new memories to capture for sure.
Love you much,
Joni R.

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

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