"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."

It was Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president who was taken from us by an assassin's bullet at the age of 56, who made that notable quote. The sentence also accurately describes Joe Plasko, our friend and a brother in this news business for many years who was such an important link in the chain of our TIMES NEWS family.

To say that Joe was a complete journalist may be understating. His polished writing style spanned three different fields – entertainment, sports and general news. Add to that his busy schedule as a civic leader and it was difficult to imagine how he managed to juggle the times and fit them into his appointment book.

It was hard to keep up with his assignment schedule at the newspaper. "Where's Joe tonight?" someone would ask.

Was he covering a concert at Penn's Peak? A state playoff basketball game at Martz Hall? The state wrestling championships in Hershey? Or maybe it was "stay-at-home night," meaning he was covering some public meeting in his home turf of Tamaqua.

There was not a better ambassador for his town than Joe was for Tamaqua. A former Chamber of Commerce president, he himself seemed energized in speaking about the revitalization and the progress seen in his home town.

We can recall the untiring community service in programs such as the Schuylkill Carbon Marine Corps League Toys For Tots Campaign, which Joe and this newspaper have tirelessly promoted.

"Joe Plasko and all of the TIMES NEWS reporters and staff have always contributed greatly to the efforts and goals of our Schuylkill Carbon Marine Corps Toys For Tots Campaign," said Sgt. Andrew Leibenguth of the Schuylkill Carbon Marine Corps League exactly three years ago. "Without them, our program would have never been able to help the over 1,400 underprivileged children in our area every holiday season."

Whether it was holding down the office as the consummate professional in our Tamaqua newsroom, being the loving husband and devoted family member, serving as a tireless community point person or devoting time as a volunteer for St. Jerome's Church, Joe Plasko was indeed a man who wore many hats.

Somehow, all those hats managed to fit, and thankfully, we became all the better for it as the grateful beneficiaries.