After 35 years of greeting his clients with a smile, Grove City resident Karl Durst is retiring.

After 35 years of greeting his clients with a smile, Grove City resident Karl Durst is retiring.

An account executive at The Grove City Record for five years, Durst also worked for The Columbus Dispatch.

Throughout his career in the print newspaper advertising industry, Durst has had a wide variety of clients, working with everyone from funeral directors to clothing stores, cultivating long-term business relationships.

"It's been a wonderful 35-year career," Durst said.

Durst knew in high school and college that he was a people person. "I could never sit at a desk and be happy in life," he said.

At age 21, he started his career at the Zanesville Times Recorder in 1976. In 1981 he moved to the Worthington News, and in 1985 he started at The Dispatch, his goal since college.

He worked on the Neighbor News, a tabloid precursor to ThisWeek Community Newspapers, and in 1987, he was elevated to a regular position on the retail floor at the Dispatch. "That was my goal and I got it," Durst said.

From 1976 to 2002, ads were developed on a glossy piece of paper. Durst communicated with customers face-to-face and via mail and phone.

"That was the only way to do it. There was no other way," he said. In 2002, Durst started learning to send emails to clients. Eventually, ads started to be generated in PDF format and were sent electronically. "I feel really good about how I've been able to master this," Durst said.

Despite technological advances, some things remained the same, such as daily interaction with clients. "I think that's been a part of my success," Durst said, emphasizing the need to be sincere and enthusiastic. "You have to go in with a smile," he said.

Durst rearranged his priorities after having a mild heart attack in May 2010.

Since then, he has lost 40 pounds and has been able to keep it off through diet and exercise. While for many years he focused on work, he's now devoting time to family and volunteerism. "I'm very blessed spiritually, financially and physically," he said.

Despite his retirement, Durst plans to volunteer every weekday.

He said he will volunteer for Meals On Wheels and for the American Red Cross as a "blood donor courier," transporting donated blood to the Red Cross headquarters in downtown Columbus. "I'm looking forward to the future," he said.

Durst said this will be his way of giving back to the community. "I hope to be able to do that for as long as I have breath in my life," he said.