Becky Harris was one of the kindest people I've ever known, certainly in the top three.
For someone who spent decades in various capacities of this crazy media business and to have "kind" as the first adjective someone attached to you is saying an awful lot.
She was a fine journalist, great reporter, outstanding editor and wonderful storyteller who touched in a positive way pretty much everybody we knew.
And Becky knew everybody.
Just about everyone who ever visited our offices, even those who were mad or had a complaint, sought out Becky to give her a hug and say a kind and encouraging word. And those who were mad weren't quite so mad after they talked with Becky.
I remember one afternoon that she offered to treat Ricky Duke and I to a trip to a hot dog stand. She seemed to know everybody in line, at the hot dog stand, including the proprietors, and introduced us to everyone we didn't know at the stand. And the way she described the menu, it was like Ricky and I were about to partake of a fine steak dinner.
There are often boundaries and barriers naturally created in the media business among different departments and individuals. There were no walls with Becky. I think she was as beloved by folks in other despartments as by those of us in the newsroom.
Becky died Tuesday night after a long illness.
Through most of that illness, she continued to work and do her job well.
We all remember her smile, the hug, the tight clasp of your hand when something good happened or she was really enjoying something. When he duties were limited, I remember so many times she apologized profusely for not being able to do more.
She carried on with the passion she had for this business and that sweet smile. I remember when she first got sick, she shrugged and told me that it was probably the effects of an old soccer injury (I don't think she ever played soccer).
There were several times we shared a meal, with others at The Log Cabin, we would be stuffed and she would always offer us some of her food. "Here, you want this. I haven't touched it and it's good," she would say.
What I loved about Becky was her ability to appreciate the little things.
I remember a great conversation we once had about Bill Mazeroski, World Series hero for the Pittsburgh Pirates and her favorite baseball player.
I remember one day I spent about three minutes helping her with a fairly simple computer issue and she thanked me like I had just rescued her from a ditch. I helped make a last-minute reservation for her to attend an awards luncheon and the smile and the thankful hand grasp was like I had just got her an audience with the President — or Bill Mazeroski.
The photo that accompanies this blog is not self-serving. Becky loved to take pictures of famous people. She snapped this one in the office when I showed up wearing a Pat Summerall polo I had received at the Pat Summerall golf tournament. I wore it the day after Summerall died as a tribute to him. Becky took the picture of me, not necessarily because of me, but because I was wearing a Pat Summerall polo and it served as a substitute for not being able to photograph Pat Summerall.
She emailed me the picture with just "Pat" in the subject line. I've never deleted it. I cherish it now.
On such a rainy, cold yucky morning — as we remember so many good times with Becky and realizing there is a void — it's easy to feel bummed out.
But as I thought about Becky, I couldn't get too bummed out. She would comment on what a nice rain we were having and how it is not so bad to feel cool in May and we may wish to be this cool in a few weeks.
Even on a depressing, rainy day and even when she was feeling badly, Becky would find a rainbow, maybe two. And that's what made her really special.