Three stellar journalists bowed out in the past year, each in his own way irreplaceable. Warren Elly’s retirement from WTVT Fox-13 was announced just before the end of the space shuttle — an apt coincidence, considering that Elly, local television’s best courts reporter, was also a space aficionado who’d attended and written about many of the shuttles. Jeff Testerman ended his 30-year career with the St. Pete Times earlier this year; nominated five times by the paper for a Pulitzer, the bulldog reporter will be remembered as one of the finest investigative writers ever in the Bay area. And Howard Troxler, the indispensable Times columnist, headed for the hills of North Carolina in June. There has been no replacement at the Times since, and we hear there probably won’t be until after the 2012 election.