Via Con Dios, Amigos

This was just in from the ABQ Tribune today. Albuquerque Journal Associate Sports Editor Mike Hall died from pneumonia today. Mike was 61 years old. Update: The Albuquerque Journal did a great article in Saturday’s paper as well.

Mike was a friend of mine. He hired me to work on the Journal sports desk over 10 years ago. Well, he didn’t as much “hire” me as let me work there part time (I was already working for the City Desk as a runner) during the week when they needed someone to answer phones.

Mike was still the sports editor at the time, before moving over and letting someone else take the helm of the sports desk. Mike then went on to cover Lobo Women’s Basketball. Mike was very dedicated to the women’s team. He worked hard to find the latest recruits that UNM was interested in and then would write features about them. This in turn helped the women’s program to recruit better players.

Mike was a great guy. I remember one time, when I was still playing rugby, I walked into the office one afternoon and Mike called me over to his desk. “I’m kinda concerned about you playing rugby,” he told me. He showed me an article about a New Zealand rugby player who was accused of sticking his hands up players… well you get the idea. “Is this what rugby is like?” he asked with a grin before we moved on to getting ready for that day’s work.

When Mike was around there was always something smart-assy that would come out of his mouth. Never in a malicious way, but in a light-hearted tone that would bring out the best in you for a response.

However, Mike was a pretty serious smoker. I don’t know how much he smoked, but he was often was seen outside indulging in a smoke break. Then before I left the Journal he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He took some time off to fight it and slowly started to come back to work as he was getting better. Then after I left the Journal he got sick again and, from what I had heard he had to be placed in a coma for a few weeks to try and fight it off.

Mike, you were greatly loved and you will be missed. Now the big paper up there has someone to cover the women’s beat.

Ah, but I wrote “amigos” in the headline…

Earlier this week I attended the memorial service for Greg Johnston, a public affairs coordinator for the University of New Mexico. Greg was fighting cancer and died on Valentine’s Day this year.

Greg was another one of those great guys who, like Mike, left before his time should have been up. I met Greg through the Public Relations Society of America branch in Albuquerque, where he was a member and I was a student member. Greg was always willing to make the time to talk with you when you needed advice, or wanted someone to talk to.

He was always positive, never had a negative thing to say about anyone. He was a nice guy who always took the time to say “hello” to you when he saw you, and ask how you were doing.

The last time I saw Greg was at the PRSA Holiday Party in December. I was one of the first ones there, but there was Greg sitting at the bar with someone having a good time. He took the time to wave me over and sit down with me and talk about how work was going for me, since he knew I was still in my first few months at the new job, and he talked about how great it was that I was one of the few graduates who was able to find a job, since so many were still looking.

The chapel was filled to standing room only for his memorial service, which doesn’t surprise me. Greg was one of those kinds of people that you would remember for how he touched your heart.

I only hope that when my time comes, I will have touched people’s hearts in the same way Greg and Mike did.

Go with God, whatever God you believe in, friends.

Tags: , , , Greg Johnston

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