As I write this, I am preparing to go to a friend’s funeral. A young man, only 39 years old, a husband, a father.
I worked with this guy back at the turn of the century. He was a good, hard-working reporter. Sure, copy editors sometimes cringed when he turned in a story, because he was not the world’s best speller. That often happens with reporters.
This guy seemed to know someone everywhere. If we had a breaking story, he’d know a guy who worked in the emergency room, or a woman who was a secretary for the school district, or someone who lived down the street from where a murder was committed. He had a great nose for news and followed it, doggedly.
Yet, he sometimes was timid. After 9/11, he used to lock his computer keyboard away overnight so no one could sprinkle anthrax on it.
When I lamented that I was unable to get to Irag to cover the war in 2003, he couldn’t understand why I’d want to go there.
“They’re fighting a war there,” he’d say, as if I didn’t know. Yes, I’d say, that’s why I want to go.
My friend looked incredibly like a famous movie star. He pretended to downplay that, but secretly he loved it. We even sent him to a town where a movie was being made. The star of the movie was his doppelganger. He fooled some fans, but balked at trying to get up close and personal with the leading lady.
While he worked for the paper, his father died. We all attended the funeral out of respect for our friend.
I remember proudly that, despite all the lovely professional photographs he had taken at his wedding, he especially liked a photo I had taken.
He left the newspaper after he got married. As many newlyweds do, he needed more money and that wasn’t going to happen at the newspaper.
I fell mostly out of touch with him, then. He worked for a municipal government and, frankly, I think he was concerned that if and when we spoke, his new employer might think he was passing me confidential information. So we didn’t speak so much.
And now he’s gone. A lot of my colleagues have expressed their shock and sorrow. Many of them are out of this area and were unable to attend the funeral. Others, with youngish families of their own, just couldn’t make it.
So I went to let his wife know that we all liked him a great deal, that we all had fond and funny memories of him and to say goodbye for all of them.