Sherman, who joined the magazine as its top editor in December 2006, will pursue freelance writing and editing jobs and take a breather from the continuous stream of deadlines that make Newport Life tick.

NEWPORT — Annie Sherman’s recent departure as managing editor of Newport Life Magazine marked the end of an era for the publications housed at 101 Malbone Road. She was the last member of the Sherman family with the company after GateHouse Media purchased the Edward A. Sherman Publishing Co. a little more than a year ago.

“The decision [to leave] was heartbreaking,” Sherman said in her office recently.

Sherman, who joined the magazine as its top editor in December 2006, will pursue freelance writing and editing jobs and take a breather from the continuous stream of deadlines that make Newport Life tick.

“I want to take a break for a little bit, not transition immediately to a full-time role,” she explained. “Honor all that has been here with my family’s role, be a mom for five minutes and, of course, freelance a little on the side and see where the winds blow.”

Sherman is the daughter of Albert “Buck” Sherman, a former publisher of Sherman Publishing Co., and Jocelyn Sherman.

Despite growing up on Aquidneck Island, she said she never set her sights on continuing her family’s newspaper legacy in Newport.

After graduating from Saint Anselm College, Sherman took an internship with the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in Florida. She returned to Rhode Island for a stint covering Narragansett for the South County Independent, formerly a sister publication of The Daily News, before heading to New Zealand to cover the 2003 America’s Cup.

“It wasn’t necessarily a foregone conclusion that I would come back here and do this job,” Sherman said.

Lynne Tungett founded Newport Life Magazine in 1993, and Sherman Publishing purchased it in 2003. The magazine is published every other month, with July and August editions. There are four annual magazines as well — Newport Home, the Best Read Guide, Newport Wedding and the City Guide.

Sherman served as the publication’s editorial assistant before attending Boston University, where she earned a master’s degree in journalism. Then at 29 years old, she succeeded Tungett as editor.

“I guess I was never really that good at covering news, as much as I tried with the Independent and covering Narragansett,” she said. “I don’t know if I could do what you do at the daily level. I think I always found [more of a] comfort level working at a monthly basis. And granted our daily deadlines aren’t any less frantic, but they’re a little more rolling, I guess, with work for a month on a particular story.”

More time translated into deeper dives into issue-oriented coverage on matters such as the environment, education, gambling and redevelopment. She made a concerted effort for the publication to be more than a monument to Newport County's storied past and to capture its evolution.

“I wanted the magazine to more reflect and to better reflect the more contemporary Newport community,” she explained. “I really tried to instill a more modern readability of the magazine that was less of a stroll down memory lane than an assessment of current events to some extent.”

The magazine cultivated community engagement through annual features, such as the Best of Newport County Awards, a top 10 groundbreakers list, and photo and writing contests.

Despite carving out an important role in the company, she knew she would never retire here. “As much as the community may have thought I would be publisher someday, I’m not a business owner; I’m a creator,” she said. “I like to write and edit and do photo shoots and create something that people read every day.”

“Annie has been a wonderful managing editor for Newport Life, and we deeply appreciate the leadership she has brought to the magazine,” said Alan Rosenberg, regional executive editor for GateHouse Media, which owns Newport Life and The Newport Daily News. "We are excited to be able to bring to the magazine a new editor who can carry on the same high standards we've enjoyed with Annie."

For so long, her personal identity was linked to the Newport Life brand, in much the same way her husband Derek Luke’s identity is tied to the Newport Storm beers he brews. Around the same time Sherman Publishing Co. was sold, a private equity group bought a controlling interest in the company that produces Newport Storm beers and Thomas Tew rums. The move freed Luke and Brent Ryan, who were among the group that founded the company in 1999, to focus more on brewing and distilling, respectively.

“Literally overnight our futures kind of shifted a little bit, and both of us were OK with that,” she said. "For so long we lived and breathed … for these careers and these brands. I think it was time to give in a little, and I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to keep that up.

“We’re not just Newport Life and Newport Storm. We’re Annie and Derek. And we can do more than how our brands define us.”

dgomes@newportri.com