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Oct 31st 2011 7:43PM The guild I currently run sounds a lot like your guild. We have been around for about 4 years and while we have never been the top guild on our server we have always managed to complete the content (at least on normal) before the next patch and have had a lot of fun doing it. I am actually the 4th leader this guild has had since our inception. About six months in our first guild leader got burned out, robbed our guild bank, and then server changed. The guild almost folded save for the efforts of me and a few other officers. One of those officers took over and ran the guild for 2 great years. He was an older player and really admired by all of us. However when the economy turned sour and real life got tough he had to step back for real life obligations. He tapped another member of the guild to run things and promised to continue offering his support even if he wasn't there to raid anymore. He stayed true to his promise and would often spend his limited play time just listening to us officers complain and offering a little fatherly guidance.
Things were going really well with the guild under this setup until last Christmas when our then guild leader was unexpectedly killed. It was actually the former guild leader who logged on to let us know what happened (he had formed a close RL relationship with the current gl after meeting him through WoW). We didn't have a succession plan at that point, but I was the most logical person to take over at that time. Frankly, I didn't really want to and had been considering quitting myself. Out of loyalty to the guild, however, I stepped up and 8 months later the guild is as healthy as ever.
The point of my story is that if your guild is as strong as you say it is it will survive you stepping away. However, it seems what you value more than the game is the relationships you have developed through that vehicle. Consider staying on as a casual member of the guild and logging in occasionally when you schedule permits (assuming the sub cost isn't prohibitive). In this way you can still chat with your friends and offer a little moral support to the new officers. Also consider setting up a facebook page for this guild. This is a great way to stay connected with guildmates outside the game. If the friendships you have developed in the game are worth holding on to your guildies will make an effort to stay in contact with you to.
Just my two cents....good luck!