Thomas Sowell, one of the greatest minds in conservative thought today, has announced in his latest (and final) column that he is retiring from the opinion writing world. At 86 years old, it is probably expected, but a tragic loss for conservative writing nonetheless.

Even the best things come to an end. After enjoying a quarter of a century of writing this column for Creators Syndicate, I have decided to stop. Age 86 is well past the usual retirement age, so the question is not why I am quitting, but why I kept at it so long.

It was very fulfilling to be able to share my thoughts on the events unfolding around us, and to receive feedback from readers across the country — even if it was impossible to answer them all.

Sowell’s career has not just been that of a prominent conservative and economic voice, but also a prominent voice of criticism of his own black community. He grew up in Harlem, and has criticized what he calls in this and other columns the “degeneration in black ghettoes.” His is one of the biggest voices for social change in the black community, yet he is largely ignored in the same community because of his political leanings.

Several years ago, I got Sowell’s book, Basic Economics, from a family member as a gift. I will not lie to you: the reading is dry and difficult to power through at times. However, you cannot deny the amount of research and thought that goes into what Sowell produces, and it is remarkable the amount of knowledge that one can glean from his work.

This year has been a year against the experts. Still, somehow, after experts in almost every field were humbled by the chaotic year, Sowell stands as one of the very few who maintains his integrity, despite everything else that has happened. His retirement at the end of 2016 is both happy and sad in that he has the option of going out with his integrity and honor intact, though we lose a true guiding light.

Sowell’s work will be missed, but he has definitely earned a happy retirement.