Sad news of an old friend

It’s one of those things that leaves a horrible feeling in your gut. This afternoon, my RSS reader popped up a South Dakota media blog post that Ron Bender of Rapid City was killed Monday in a hit-and-run accident in Gaithersburg, Md.

Ron and his wife, Muriel Shepard, were at the Rapid City Journal when I was there more than 20 years ago, back in the days when typewriters and teletypes were still in use. There’s no two ways about it, Ron was an absolutely great guy. He had excellent writing and editing skills and, equally important, his unassuming character could be a calming influence or crack you up with some humorous, yet insightful, observation or comment. In fact, every time I’ve pictured Ron over the years, it was with a wry smile on his face.

According to news reports and the blog post, Ron, 64, retired from the RCJ this spring after 38 years there. He was in Maryland for the wedding of his brother and was killed while crossing the street to go to a nearby store for supplies for the dinner he was cooking.

When someone leaves a favorable impression on you that lasts for more than 20 years, it makes that feeling in the gut so much more biting.

It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

Woody Allen, Without Feathers

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