Published: Nov 23, 2012 01:41 PM
Modified: Nov 23, 2012 01:42 PM
In 1987, I introduced myself to a young sports editor at The Chapel Hill Newspaper.
I asked Eddy Landreth if he would be interested in some articles about UNC athletes who had qualified for the 1988 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. Eddy made my day when he expressed enthusiastic interest for me to contribute some freelance track and field articles to the paper.
Eddy, who died unexpectedly this month at age 54, surprised me again with a phone call in the fall of 1988, asking me if I was interested in a job as the CHN’s high school sportswriter. I was taken aback and overjoyed. Eddy offered me a job based on the little bit of work I had done – writing about just one sport.
I talked it over with my wife, accepted Eddy’s offer with pride, and began my “career” in journalism.
It did not take me long to discover two things about Eddy: he was fiercely loyal to Paul and me, and he was a perfectionist.
I was green, a slow typist, and somewhat lacking in confidence. Eddy was a strong and encouraging mentor. Even when we ran wire stories from the Associated Press, Eddy insisted that we edit each story to check for mistakes. Eddy made sure all the copy was grammatically correct; every word of every story was read by all three of us.
Eddy simply wanted to put out a high quality product for local readers, and he did so without fail. There were a few times when Eddy came down hard on me for a poor job, but he gave me far more positive feedback for jobs well done, something few editors are in the habit of doing. It was a pleasure to work under Eddy’s leadership.
Although I was the prep writer covering Chapel Hill High and Orange High (the only two high schools in the county at that time), Eddy let me attend UNC football and basketball games, and write a sidebar story. Suffice it to say, that was very exciting for me.
Not long after he gave me the job, Eddy also lobbied to get me a raise, something he did several times during my tenure at the paper. It was also fun to be on the sports desk with Eddy and Paul. The banter was especially good because we spanned the spectrum politically: Paul was to the right, I was to the left, and Eddy was the moderate Democrat right in the middle.
Eddy was the consummate editor – not only because he was meticulous, but because he was simply a gifted manager, both of the product and the personnel.
Had he wanted to, Eddy could have become managing editor of a major newspaper. He had the people skills as well as the intellect to do so.
But his grand dream was of writing a column for Sports Illustrated, a dream that comes true for maybe one in a million aspiring sports writers.
Eddy, Paul and I each faced our share of layoffs as journalism as we knew it took hit after hit, the same fates so many of our co-workers experienced. Eddy plugged away, however. He kept up his coverage of ACC sports, especially the Tar Heels, finding work wherever he could. His columns – in The Chapel Hill News, The Carrboro Citizen and online – were always a good, provocative read. His insights always perceptive.
Like so many of his family and friends, I feel the sting of Eddy’s premature death. He was here, alive and well, and in what seemed like an instant, he was gone – taken from his
mother, Barbara Landreth; from his wife, Jane Landreth, who lost her brother, Steve Desper, just about two weeks before Eddy died; from his children, Madison and Jordan; and from all who knew and loved him.
I am comforted by the Catholic tradition in which those who leave us become members of the Communion of Saints, where they can be called on as intercessors on our behalves.
I believe Eddy is now among the Communion of Saints. He was a compassionate and loving man who made the world a better place by his presence. In the years ahead I will try to remember to call on Eddy when I need an intercessor. I will always be grateful to God for making Eddy a part of my life. His family should be proud of his legacy.
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published, broadcast or redistributed in any manner.