July 18, 2017
DEFINITION: Having extensive information and understanding; deeply versed through reading.
He’s spent years lying in the shadows. Now, more than ever, the world needs his courage. St. Joseph’s most influential writer, Alonzo Weston, has revealed his secret identity. He. Is. A. Nerd.
…Alonzo Weston has been frequenting Cosmic Collectables for the past few years. Curtis Coldry, owner of the superhero sanctuary, admits he was a little surprised to see the highly- regarded newspaper columnist initially walk through his door at 16th and Garfield.
“You look at him and he’s not the type, but they come in all shapes and sizes.”
In a way, Alonzo identifies with the plight of the superhero. For years, he kept his comic book and video game obsession under wraps.
“I didn’t let anybody know that I read them, because I thought it was just kind of weird. It was like a deep, dark secret. So here I am, 62 and I’m still loving it, so I’m just gonna own it. I love comics and video games!”
Many locals know Alonzo Weston as a journalist for the St. Joseph News-Press , but he didn’t set out to become a writer.
“When I was younger, I wanted to be a comic book artist. My first love was art. Somewhere along the way, I just wanted to write more than I wanted to draw.”
In his distinguished career, he’s been honored with a number of prestigious awards including the YWCA/NAACP Kelsey Beshears Racial Justice Award in 2005 and the Department of Mental Health Media Award in 2002 for a series of stories on local mental health issues.
His list of accolades continues with nationally published byline stories in the Nashville Tennessean and the New York Daily News.
Today, his face beams with pride as he stands near the statue of fellow St. Joseph native, Coleman Hawkins. Situated at Seventh and Felix streets, the statue and the corresponding Coleman Hawkins Jazz Festival brings throngs of jazz appreciators to this historic tract of downtown real estate each year. Both are efforts in which Alonzo played a major role.
From working his way up the ranks at the paper as an intern in 1989 with no formal journalism training to earning his degree in 2002, to being voted the city’s favorite columnist for nearly two decades, Alonzo is the very definition of a self-made man.
He’s worked more jobs than he can count – as a baker, vacuum cleaner salesman, on the railroad, and at WireCo’s former steel wire rope manufacturing plant in St. Joseph. For many of his WireCo years, Alonzo was pulling double duty, writing part time for the News-Press. Alonzo says those years of factory work and back breaking labor helped shape who he is and his unique writing style.
“People always say that I’m the voice of the people in the street. I guess I get that from being in that world.”
You can tell that his uncommon path to becoming one of the most trusted voices in our community is something he takes great pride in.
Alonzo sums up his accomplishments and legacy with a simple thought that encompasses his values of education, experience, passion and persistence — a thought that doubles as a call to action to our entire community.
“If you want something bad enough, you gotta go after it…I just never gave up.”
If you ask him about his career playing and coaching tennis, he’ll tell you he just hopes that people try the sport.
More than a decade of service later, the program continues to grow. Most of the kids who live in this St. Joseph neighborhood receive free or reduced priced breakfast and lunch during the school year, but have limited food resources in the summer.
What does it take to become a local legend in sandwich-making? The recipe calls for a family history of food know-how, plus a generous amount of business savvy.
Amidst the chaos of a packed gymnasium… squeak, squeak. Bounce. Bounce. These are the only sounds that matter. Sneakers and a basketball against a polished gym floor.