Sunday, February 12, 2006

Beyond Just a Job.

Hi Guys,

What do you say when your coworker dies? Whether it's the guy you passed in the hall or a close friend, it really hits you. If you haven't read Lisa Mascaro's moving obituary of Tim Fairholm (reprinted below on the blog or online at:, it's definitely worth your time. You get a little slice of the guy who helped us through god knows how many computer problems, smiled as you wandered by Photo and meant a lot to many people who work here.

When Ron called us around to share the news of Tim's death, he hit it dead on when he called it a tragedy. Those of us lucky enough to know Tim will remember him as a kind, generous, witty, helpful guy. Many people in the newsroom could call him a good friend-- I realize now that I missed out by not taking the chance to get to know him better. To lose someone so young, so smart, so genuine would be horrible in any circumstance, but it hits especially hard when it's someone who's been such a calming, steady presence at the paper for so long. And even more so because it was Tim.

There have been many tense, emotional moments at work, many times when people have broken down and lost their composure, but none quite like that Monday meeting where we learned he was gone. I've never seen so many people with tears in their eyes or felt the air sucked right out of the room like that. As Ron says in the obituary, it's like losing a member of the family.

And he's right, in many ways. It's not just that it's sad that a great guy like Tim should die so young, but that he's left a hole in the community of which we're all part. Like it or not, the Daily News is like a family. It's a strange family, a dysfunctional family, one that makes mistakes and fights and butts heads and acts stubbornly, but it's a family nonetheless. It can be a wonderful family, too, one that brings us all together in pursuit of a common goal. We all invest so much of ourselves in that place every day, spending time away from our real, actual families, that you can't help but feel like it's more than just a 9-to-6 (or a 3-to-12, in many cases) job.

This isn't my usual kind of message, where I extol the virtues of organized labor and tell people to join the union. Tim was management, not a union guy, but at times like this, that doesn't matter in the slightest. He was one of us, a guy who gave it his all for a job, loved the friends he worked with and died before many of us ever got the chance to thank him just for being who he was.

When you lose someone like that, it's not just that a desk light in the corner will be switched off or there'll be one less guy to bail you out when your computer crashes. We've lost a part of our lives. Those of you who called him your friend, consider yourselves blessed-- in talking to some of you in the last week, it's clear that he was an extremely special, loyal, devoted friend who you were all lucky to know. Everyone should be so fortunate to have someone like that.

So what do you do, what do you say? You've got to look around at the friends you have left and be thankful for them. You've got to take a deep breath the next time work gets to you and remember that there are more important things out there. And we've all got to look out for each other, during hard times like this and good times alike. We've lost a good guy this week, one who can never be replaced, so treasure his memory, hang onto each other and hope that we can all learn from the shy, quiet guy in the corner.

Thanks for listening.



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