To Our Readers
IF there's a more savvy, warm-hearted, curmudgeonly newspaperman alive than Dave Shapiro, I haven't met him. Imagine Ed Asner's Lou Grant as played by Wilford Brimley, throw in the political instincts of a Lyndon Johnson, the righteousness of a Tom Paine, a self-deprecating sense of humor and a passion for newspapers and the people who inhabit them. That wouldn't be Dave, but it'd sure put you in his ballpark.
I met Dave in California in 1986. By then, he already had eons of experience as a reporter and editor, covering volcanic eruptions on the Big Island, space shots at Cape Canaveral and lots of territory in between.
We came to the Star-Bulletin together in 1987. Dave had left Hawaii in 1978 as the paper's Washington correspondent, returning nine years later as its managing editor. Last month he unwillingly stepped down for health reasons.
For the past 13 years on the table of organization I was his boss, but the heart, soul and brain of this newspaper lived in his office, not mine. There have been few decisions much more important than what to have for lunch that I haven't bounced off him over those years. I didn't always take his advice, of course. I have the scars to prove it.
Eight years ago I described Shapiro this way: "Focuses on results, remains calm in a crisis, defends what he believes in passionately and speaks his mind...enthusiastically committed to the Star-Bulletin in a way that commands the respect of the staff."
His city editor 22 years ago wrote: "Dave Shapiro may be the best all-around reporter on the staff -- fast, dependable, competent on any type of assignment... he exudes confidence in his judgment and the ability to handle his beat on his own."
Today, I'm happy to call him friend, colleague, confidant and counselor.
If I were caught in a fight some night in a dark alley, I might not want Dave beside me, but I'd sure as hell want him writing the story.
John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 525-8612, fax to 523-8509, send
e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.