Friends, family and coworkers stopped by The Examiner to honor retiring staff member Frank Haight and Dick Puhr Thursday.
Memories, both old and new, abounded Thursday at The Examiner as more than 100 people stopped by to pay their respects to retiring reporters Dick Puhr and Frank Haight.
Together, the two men have worked a combined 92 years at the paper - Dick, beginning in 1959, and Frank in 1965.
The Rev. Mark McGuire, former Examiner employee, worked with Dick and Frank for 25 years.
“Dick and Frank are both bridges to the past. They’re old-line, old-school journalists,” McGuire said. “They have made the transition to modern journalism, from hot type and lead to offset printing to pagination and computers.”
He recalled The Examiner of yore, at 321 W. Lexington, when reporters pounded out stories on typewriters.
“Everyone was clacking away. It sounded like a giant secretarial pool,” he said. “Cigarette smoke curled around the pillars of the room. The windows were open because we didn’t have air conditioning.”
Dick, McGuire said, was always earnest about his job.
“He pretty much lived his job. He had the respect of those whom he covered and excellent rapport with area coaches. Dick worked an outrageous number of hours. I remember coming in on a Saturday or Sunday night and he’d be here, taking some game results. He has an unbelievable library of statistics he would keep. Coaches would call him to confirm their scores.”
Frank, McGuire said, is “a people person.”
“He has a wonderful way of dealing with readers. He is a genuinely kind person. Frank represents The Examiner well in the community. He does an excellent job of putting a human face to the paper and the community. And when a managing editor would leave The Examiner, Frank would be tossed in during the interim until they hired someone new.”
Terryl Elliot, author of a book on historical fiction and nonfiction, as well as a volume of poetry, has been written about by both Dick and Frank.
“Dick used to cover me playing basketball in Blue Springs in the early 1960s,” Elliot said. “And Frank, he’s promoted two of my three books.”
Elliot said a favorite memory of his is when Dick wrote about a playoff game between Blue Springs and Harrisonville.
“He called us the ‘blue plate special.’ I’ve never forgotten that.”
Joan Blackburn Harris has known Frank since they attended high school together in the 1950s. Her grandfather was Leroy Blackburn, superintendent of the Independence School District for 30 years.
“That tells you how old we all are,” she said, laughing.
“He’s a pretty fine feller, that’s what I say,” piped her husband, Ralph Harris.
Newlyweds Bob and Bettie Long, who attended high school together in Independence in the 1940s, only to marry more than 60 years later, ribbed Dick about his bowling prowess. He and Dick used to bowl in the same league and on the same team at the Strike ‘n Spare on U.S. 40. In 1967, Dick bowled a 300 -12 strikes in a row - for the coveted perfect score.
As well-wishers mingled, the words “icons” and “legends” were frequently bestowed upon the two humble reporters.
But McGuire perhaps summed up the collective sentiment best.
“The ink must really be in the blood. What is it they say? Most people will have seven career changes in their lifetimes? These two have stayed in the same industry and place. You certainly won’t see that again.”