When bad things happen to good people

I can still remember it well.

It was in the late ’80’s when I was Lake County bureau chief for the suburban Chicago Daily Herald. I was sitting at my desk, looking at my watch. It was almost 7 p.m., an hour after deadline.

Nearby, Kevin Dougherty was busy punching the keyboard of his computer. He’d type some, stop, stare at the screen, and type again.

“Kevin, I need that story. NOW.” I yelled.

“Almost finished,” he replied, waving one hand at me while typing away with the other.

“No, I need it now, or you’ll have to send it straight to the copy desk.” That usually invoked fear in all my reporters, for the copy desk chief was known to be a real ogre with reporters, especially those who missed deadlines.

“Give me one more minute,” he’d plead. For some unknown reason, I did.

A minute later, his story finally popped into my editing terminal. “Done!” he yelled back to me as he came over to my desk.

I read the story he’d spend way too much time working on. It was immaculate. Not only was it complete and well organized, it was also typographically clean.  After admonishing him for being so late with his story, I congratulated him on a great job and sent the story along.

That was how Kevin operated. You’d never guess it from his disheveled appearance, but he always took great care with the small details, both in his writing and in his interactions with others. It was that genuine care that earned him so many friends — friends he kept in touch with through all these years.

Kevin left the Herald in 1990 to pursue a lifelong goal to walk across the United States. His quest fell short, and he eventually went to work for Stars & Stripes. His work took him to the hot spots of the world. Occasionally, he would stop back to see his friends at the Herald and we’d have lunch. He’d tell us about his experiences, from walking through mine fields to walking away from a helicopter crash.

I’m reminded of the good times because today Kevin lays in a hospital recovering from serious injuries he received after being hit by a car in northern Illinois. The accident occurred as he was restarting his cross-country trek. There are few details on the accident, but Kevin’s recovery will be long and arduous.

Fellow friend and Daily Herald colleague Burt Constable has more about Kevin here. 

I hope you all join me and Kevin’s friends and colleagues in praying for Kevin’s recovery.  Kevin is an exceptional journalist, but more importantly, he is a genuinely nice guy.

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