Ruth Birge, the outgoing publisher of The Hendersonville Times-News, has that remarkable executive ability to make you feel as though you’re the specific person for whom she’s been eagerly waiting all day. No doubt that’s helped her throughout an extremely varied and high-speed business career.
Retirement (as of December 31, 2008) will not likely slow her down. She intends to stay in the Hendersonville area, which she considers one of the best places on the planet. She also plans to “sell something.” A logical choice, given that she’s sold school buses, highway coaches, fire trucks, Jacuzzi whirlpool equipment, and, most recently, community newspapers.
“Community” is a big word with Birge. She’s served on the boards of United Way, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, several chambers of commerce, Pardee Hospital, Florida’s Council on Economic Education, Carolina Mountain Land Conservatory, the North Carolina Press Association and others.
Ask her why she’s involved herself in so many good causes and she’ll tell you, “That’s what you do to give back…you have to pay something for living in such a great place.”
But it’s more than just a great place to live. Publishing the Times-News, while a demanding job, she says, has been a great experience.
“In this area,” she explains, “we’re blessed with this retired population who still love the printed word. They want it in their hands, everyday, with their morning coffee. Of all the things that I’ve ever done, it’s the best. You get together with a bunch of very good people and you make a new product every day.”