I heard today that my friend Elliot Pinsley died this week. I worked with Elliot for a few years many years ago. He may not even have remembered me. And I don't know if he'd call me a friend.
But it still comes as a shock to hear that he died, at 57, of cancer.
Elliot was a great reporter, but by the time I knew him, he'd become an editor, bending and shaping other reporters stories.
For a while at The Record in Hackensack, New Jersey, Elliot and I sat across from each other. My memory of him was that of a very busy man. He always seemed to be running late for something. Always had a lot to do.
When I heard about his death today, the memory of one afternoon came back sharp and clear. I was at my desk. Elliot at his, juggling phone calls and people stopping by.
The phone rang again and he snapped up the receiver. It was Max, Elliot's young son.
Elliot was a little impatient at first, but then I could just feel his body relax and he sat back and gave Max his full attention.
Elliot had decided to shut out everything else right then and give Max his full attention. Nothing else mattered except the little-boy emergency that led Max to call his dad.
I could tell from hearing one side of the conversation that Max had lost his velociraptor and was pretty upset. Elliot, who took the loss as seriously as Max, talked his son through looking in his room,...
checking the kitchen and then pulling up the couch cushions where he found the toy. Emergency over. Max was back to playing and Elliot back to work.
I haven't thought about that afternoon when Max lost his velociraptor ... probably since it happened. But as sad as I am that Elliot has died, I am also comforted by the memory of that afternoon, happy that I witnessed that pure moment when he decided to cut out the clutter and help his boy, took the time to be a good dad.
For more about Elliot the journalist, this obit ran in the paper we both worked for:
Elliot Pinsley, former Record reporter and editor, dies at 57
Robin, Tempe, Arizona