Just a week ago in this column I wrote about three editors in The Herald Bulletin newsroom taking on new responsibilities.
The night after that column was published, one of those editors, Steve Dick, died in his home of a heart attack. Steve was just 60 years old and had not been diagnosed with serious health problems.
News of Steve’s death devastated his wife, Jenny, and their 23-year-old son, Jeffrey. And it hit our newsroom hard. He had worked here for more than a dozen years, the last eight as the leader of our news coverage.
A humble, self-deprecating man, Steve was smart and well read. He held a master’s degree in journalism, was well versed in U.S. and world history and kept constantly abreast of national and international affairs.
But, as a former employee of Delco Remy America, he identified most strongly with the common man and believed deeply that working people should get fair wages and benefits. He was not in the least materialistic, finding happiness in his family, dogs, cats and horses — and in reading and writing.
Steve wrote a weekly column on politics, venturing so far to the left that many labeled him a socialist or even a communist. Steve didn’t care. He had a clear idea of what was right and wrong and was stubbornly unwilling to temper his vision.
Steve’s column was published in dozens of our company’s newspapers across the country. Invariably, when I visited one of our other newsrooms, someone would want to talk about Steve and his column.
Many of these folks were vehemently opposed to Steve’s views, but they usually confessed that they read his column every week. That’s the ultimate compliment to a columnist.
Here at The Herald Bulletin, we didn’t publish Steve’s columns. We wanted him to be known in the community as the impartial coordinator of our local news coverage that he was.
Steve’s death is surreal to us. We have been in a fog since. His work and his influence on the work of others are irreplaceable. But what we miss most about Steve is his sharp, raw wit, his kind heart and his gruff voice.
Many have tried but none have managed to duplicate Steve’s trademark “Budget!” call to herald our afternoon planning meetings.
This will be another difficult week. We have to figure out a way to address the work that Steve had done day in and day out. While it won’t be easy to find someone to fill those roles, we will eventually do so.
But we’ll never be able to replace Steve’s friendship — and his unwavering commitment to dragging injustice from its dark hiding places, kicking and screaming into the light.
Editor Scott Underwood’s column appears Mondays. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @THBeditor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 640-4845.