The last deadline
I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Kevin Wright. We graduated together 40 years ago and while we were different personalities, we were good friends. I’d like this to be a brief tribute, and a nostalgic one.
Kevin was already working at the Star Progress when he recommended me for the same job: full-fledged reporter. It was a testimony to the kindness of the managers that they hired two kids, but boy, they did. We did it all, from taking pictures and developing our own film, to running bags of mail to the Eureka Springs post office on Saturdays. In all this, Kevin mentored me in the business. I have enough stories to fill up this issue of the paper.
I was greener than a green bean, but Kevin had always seemed to be about 35. Gifted in many things, he treated me more like a colleague than a cub reporter. For some reason, he liked me. I also marveled at his ease around local beauties like Leonda, Jennifer and Lisa. Somehow his Dean Martin side never rubbed off on me!
We had enough laughs to last a lifetime. The circulation manager, Joe Daniels, was good to us and we loved the guy. He used to warn us to drive the company truck like it had a baby in the backseat. So of course, on Freeman Street — if Kevin drove — we’d hit the dip in front of the church with frightening speed, coming down like a ton of bricks. It was our “Streets of San Francisco” moment. We would laugh so much it was hard to see the road.
A talented artist, one day Kevin approached me with a drawing he had done of Joe: wearing only a belt of six guns and a badge. I’m still laughing. I watched the ash lengthen on Joe’s cigarette as he scanned the picture and laughed. Good sports, all.
We benefitted greatly from the skill and encouragement of Bob Reynolds, the editor. In many ways, I got a journalism degree because of the influence of Bob and Kevin. I forever loved small-town newspapers over the likes of “City Lights” dailies. I never had any ambition to bring down a president or publish Pentagon papers. I learned to publish photos of a farmer’s sweet potato that looked like Richard Nixon. I was allowed to indulge my love of local history with photo spreads. That kind of thing. I remember Kevin giving me a crash course in flash photography just before I headed to a spook-house. Purely by his instruction and my own dumb luck, I took some of the best photos of my career. We never agreed on religion or politics, but from him I learned to hone my arguments. I can still see his amused look as I explained the validity of predictive prophecy in the Bible. Earnestly!
I last saw Kevin a few years ago during one of the Check’s Burgers gatherings on the square. We exchanged pleasantries. I don’t know what else to say except I’m terribly, terribly sorry that he is gone. I tip my fedora to you, my friend.
— Jim Fletcher