After 36 years at 11Alive and 41 years in the business, Paul Crawley is retiring.

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ATLANTA-- When Paul Crawley started at WXIA-TV 36 years ago, this was unthinkable.

"This" isn't his retirement. It's me writing this story and you reading it on your laptop, mobile phone, and tablet. It's sending your congratulations wishes on Facebook.

When Paul started, he wrote his stories on a typewriter and recorded interviews on film. Four decades later, whoever said you can't teach an old dog new tricks never met Paul.

He's been through 11 news directors and 7 general managers. The way he recorded stories has changed from cutting film to nonlinear editing. From the satellite truck to using cell signal to FTP video back. But who he was when he told those stories has never changed.

For those of us that grew up watching Paul on Atlanta TV, he defined what a journalist was: responsible, respected, unflappable. And always creative. He never told the same story the same way. He always found a way to reach through the television, grab you by the lapels and make you watch. He made important stories interesting and tragic stories bearable. It's impossible to know how many of us he inspired to become journalists; I just know I'm one of them.

If there's a story big enough to remember from the past 36 years in Atlanta, Paul was on it. He collected a lot of notes and a few moments along the way. Since he announced plans to retire earlier this year, he's been slowing sifting through the drawers of his desk. The final desk clean-out was a walk through 11Alive and Atlanta history.

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Friday, Atlanta turned on their TVs and, for the first time in four decades, Paul was not on the other side of that screen. We know we should feel happy for Paul. And we ARE. We're sad for ourselves. That's how retirement works.

Paul will be spending more time with his family, his muscle cars, and airplane obsession. We'll keep doing what we do best: tell the stories of Atlanta. It's not about filling Paul's shoes. His have been too many places and seen too much. They are well-worn.

It's about remembering what he taught each of us. One person can make a difference. One story at a time.

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