Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Reports of McBane’s death have been greatly exaggerated

"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

Author/humorist Mark Twain’s remark was prompted by an article published June 1, 1897 in the New York Herald with his obituary.

Retired BJ reporter Dick McBane, who left Ol’ Blue Walls in 1997 on the same day as the late, great rewrite guru Don Bandy, can say the same thing about the “Timeline of the Beacon Journal history” published Sept. 12, 2014, which finishes with:

“— Compiled by Beacon Journal librarian Norma Hill, and the late reporter Richard McBane.”

You can check it out for yourself by clicking on http://www.ohio.com/lifestyle/timeline-of-beacon-journal-history-1.524070

Dick didn’t find out he was dead till his son, Roderick, who lives in Texas, told him.

Here’s the email from Dick, very much alive in Lilburn, Georgia, and one of America’s expert reporters on minor league baseball parks (even writing a book about it and visiting many of them around the country):

“John --

You may be interested in this for the blog. I was alerted to it by my younger son, Roderick, who is located in Pearland, Texas. If you access the "Timeline of Beacon Journal History", and go clear to end (a long way) there is a credit line that names the BJ librarian and "late reporter Richard McBane."

“Two things should be noted about this. One is that I was completely unaware of this site until I was alerted to it by Roderick, and the second, which might be evident from the first, is that I had absolutely nothing to do with this site, nor with preparing a timeline for it. And, thus far, at least, rumors of my death are unfounded, although I will turn 80 in exactly six days.

My wife, Marilynn, and I have two sons, both married, and six grandchildren. Lachlan, the elder, is a violist with the Atlanta Symphony and lives about a block from us here in Lilburn, Ga. Roderick, the younger, lives in Pearland, TX, a suburb south of Houston. He is assistant head of the math department at Houston Community College. Four of the grandchildren are here in Georgia and the two youngest are in Texas.

I hope all is well with you and that the Mountaineers have a great football season.

Everyone who has met me for 10 minutes knows what a WVU fan I am and how I have had season tickets to watch my alma mater play in Mountaineer Field for decades.

But apparently someone at the BJ doesn’t know Dick about McBane’s above-ground status.

When Dick came to the 50h anniversary reunion of his class at Hiram College in 2007 where he received a B.A. in history a half-century earlier, he stopped by Papa Joe’s for the monthly meeting of BJ retirees, which has since died out because too many who attended did die off, unlike Dick.

McBane got his master’s degree at Michigan State.

He came to the BJ from the Marietta, Ohio Times after a brief, youthful fling with the Garrettsville Journal during his Hiram College days.
He has a lively feeling for his Beacon years:

“At the old BJ we worked for the best newspaper in the country (and I really do mean that) at a time when it meant something.”

I second Dick’s definition of the BJ as one of the great newspapers in America when we both worked there (not that our being there was the ONLY reason that happened).
I put the credit squarely on John S. Knight, who was an editor in fact and at heart and knew there was more than bottom-line financial considerations to running a great newspaper. JSK valued the newspaper carrier as much as he did his editors, and everyone in between.

I ran to work every day because JSK, Ben Maidenburg and Pat Englehart made it so much fun. And was proud to tell my neighbors and those I met on the golf course that I worked there. It was, indeed, as Dick indicated, the best of times. We didn’t know newspapers were headed for the Internet iceberg.

Dick and Marylyn have been married 53 years. They moved to Georgia in 2004. Dick’s book, “A Fine-Looking Lot of Ball-Tossers: The Remarkable Akrons of 1881,” was published in 2005.

Dick and Don retired from the BJ June 11, 1997. Don wrote an article that day about Dick's retirement. Typical of Don, he didn't mention that he also was retiring that day. It was Don's last story for the BJ before he retired to Bradenton, Florida till his death in 2011.

Dick’s son, Roderick, who discovered that his dad was reported dead, married Cindy Wagner in Albany, Louisiana, amid the havoc of Hurricane Katrina. Cindy's hometown, 50 miles north of New Orleans, suffered relatively little damage, but electric power had not been fully restored by the time of the wedding at the original site, and was moved to a church which did have power. Dick and Marilynn flew from Atlanta to Houston, drove 3 ½ hours to Albany, then back to the Beaumont, Texas hotel before flying back to Atlanta.

Dick was among the five Guild retirees who won the healthcare class-action lawsuit filed by John Olesky that restored benefits to retirement day, the $2 prescription co-pay, plus Medicare primary and AARP secondary coverage, with all premiums paid by the BJ as part of the settlement. 45 printers also won the healthcare lawsuit restoring their retirement day coverage for prescriptions.

I’m far from the worse among retirees when it comes to how healthy or unhealthy I am, but I’m saving thousands of dollars every year that I live because the late Composing honcho Dave White began the lawsuit after running into a friend on the beach who was retired from a Minnesota law firm. That and Dave’s, $2,500 check got the ball rolling.

And 50 people owe Dave a great debt of gratitude.

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