Former editor's toughness challenged me to get better

Time makes more converts than reason.

- Thomas Paine

Let me tell you about Harold Reames.

He died on New Year's Eve and was buried Wednesday in Sunset Memorial Gardens.

The notice in the paper was pretty standard. It mentioned his love for the Carolina Gamecocks and his love of writing music and poetry.

It also mentioned that he was a former city desk editor of The Augusta Chronicle.

Well, he was all of those things, but like many of us he was a lot more.

For one thing, Harold was an editing prodigy. When he joined The Chronicle in the 1970s, he advanced quickly.

In fact, he might have been the youngest editor The Chronicle city desk ever had.

He was talented in other ways. On Saturday nights after editing the first edition, Harold liked to take out his guitar and strum some soft folk ballad in the mostly empty weekend newsroom.

"A quick mind," his old boss Jim Osteen remembered when I brought it up last week. A challenging mind, too.

Harold and I seemed to spend all our time arguing.

Every time I would turn in what I thought was the perfect news story, Harold would quickly find its flaws.

He was a stickler for The Associated Press Stylebook and its hundreds of well-known and lesser-known rules. Our exchanges were collegial, only in the way that Clemson and Carolina play collegial football.

At first I got mad, but then I decided to do something about it.

I took home my AP Stylebook and read it. And read it. And read it.

I learned those rules because I wanted to show Harold Reames that I knew as much about writing as he did.

Eventually he left The Chronicle to do something else. I know that he remained in the area, occasionally writing letters to the editor.

Now he's gone.

I hadn't talked to Harold in almost 30 years. For most of those years I didn't want to, but now I wish I had. I would have thanked him for pushing me to get better.

There's something about time that wears out grudges, and I know I've long forgotten whatever harsh words were exchanged.

There's also something about time that remembers the good in all of us.

That's why when I think of Harold I see him on a Saturday night sitting in an empty newsroom playing his guitar and waiting for that final edition to come off the press.

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