Everybody can write this about somebody. So I guess I’ll write this about Harry Graham.
He sat across from me in the publisher’s conference room at The Orange County Register in 2000, just as the Internet was gathering steam and before much of the world had learned of Osama bin Laden.
“Harry,” said Register Publisher N. Christian “Chris” Anderson, “how long have I been looking at you?”
Anderson had taken over recently as publisher of the Register, a few years after having been the paper’s editor. Not many people understand how hard it is to do both of those jobs. Anderson was holding sessions to hear the troops, many of whom he worked directly with as editor.
And Harry Graham was one of those.
Harry was one of those to many people.
Harry passed away recently in Florida at age 93. He had the fire as an editor for years in Orange County, California. When I joined the paper in 1992, he was retired but still working part time. And even then, he’d do better work than many of the younger ones, including me.
He made it into the publisher’s conference room in 2000, unlike many other people. Harry worked at the Register, in a sizable and affluent Southern California area, before Anderson arrived in 1980, and after Anderson returned as publisher in 1999.
In my time there, Harry would bring doughnuts in for the desk crew. Print was still king then, though smart people knew as time went on how it would fade. He’d tell us stories of his dog, his wife and Register days of yore.
Yet he also told Chris Anderson that day in the conference room that he remembered how Anderson used the Register to unite a county filled with largely faceless LA suburbs into an urban metropolis that to this day stands with its own identity.
“Chris, you were the first one to do that,” Harry told the publisher.
After Harry moved to Dunedin, Fla., in real retirement, and I moved back to the Atlanta area, he and I would stay in touch. He chuckled at my “retreat from Taxifornia” and kept me updated on himself, all over the Internet.
He wrote books. He had children. He retired. Some people have trouble doing any one of those things. Harry did ’em all.
Most of all, he was a great guy, and he was always himself. Lots of people are agreeing with me on Facebook and everywhere else right about now.
That time comes for everyone. And everyone should hope it comes in a manner that it did for Harry Graham.