The Tuscarawas Valley news business lost its most veteran member – Ed DeGraw, 92, of Dover, who reported for a gazillion years for The Times-Reporter and other publications.
I’m not sure the business can create characters like Ed any longer. Always puffing on his pipe and sipping a Coke, Ed was a fixture in our newsroom, sitting in his little corner of the world pontificating about everything and launching into a rant without warning.
Ed was one of the few reporters and photographers that I managed who actually liked covering the county fair – it could get tedious -- and in tandem with another veteran, Joe Mizer, provided unprecedented coverage for our local agricultural community year after year. I suspect that demographic has noticed that coverage might not be the same since Ed and Joe retired.
But that’s not all.
Ed didn’t understand the concept of overtime pay and would show up for work on days off because there was a story or column to be written. Need a volunteer? Ed would raise his hand.
He’d cover the cops, or city council. Or attend that all-important chicken dinner without complaint. God love him.
I don’t remember him ever calling in sick, or asking to be excused from traveling to work because of bad weather. And he brought a historical view to the news that he wrote -- sometimes to a fault. He knew when stuff happened. Ed was our Google before Google.
It sounds corny, but Ed had the proverbial nose for news and maintained sources on all levels. The first phone call I received on a fateful Sunday morning a couple of decades ago was from Ed who reported that “New Philadelphia High is on fire” and that we needed to rally the troops. A source had tipped him off.
Ed also had a special relationship with gardeners. At the first sign of frost, Ed would knock out a column, offering his thoughts on preparing the soil for winter and he wrote that column from scratch every year. His other passion was the Cleveland Indians, but his sportswriter roots allowed him to offer commentary on every aspect of athletics. And he did. Often.
I suspect God is getting an earful from Ed right now. And if God is smart, he better listen. I suspect He’ll learn something.
A few more quick hits and I’ll let you get on with your pre-Christmas activities:
--Please don’t ask me “What do you think of Trump now?” That question usually comes from a Fox News devotee who hasn’t been paying attention. It gets me all riled up and puts me in a really bad mood.
--It seems to me that every elementary school should have its own principal. I would have gone nuts in my elementary school without Sister Monica waving her paddle (with holes drilled in it to alleviate wind resistence) at my fellow hooligans. Fortunately, New Philadelphia Superintendent David Branch agrees and will request Monday that the Board of Education approve the hiring of a full slate of building principals effective Jan. 1.
--If you study the tax duplicate for the famous Dairy Queen which sits in the footstep of the new Dover High campus you will come to the conclusion that the property is worth about $160,000. In my mind, that would be a good offer from the school district to the Yoder-Angel family which owns the property.
--Driving north on N. Wooster Ave. recently, I noticed that I got stopped by only one traffic light, which is a vast improvement over the old system. There’s still more work to be done before the synchronization project is completed and traveling south is still dicey through the retail portion of S. Wooster Ave.
--I’m still encountering folks who are unaware of the existence of this blog. If someone happens to mention to you that he/she can’t find Farrell’s column in the Bargain Hunter, tell them to Google "dickfarrell.blogspot.com." It’s easily found.
--This is probably my last offering before Christmas. I hope you and your family have a great holiday. Talk to you soon.