The Bayside Gazette and its sister paper, Ocean City Today, mourn the passing this week of one of its shareholders, Hale Harrison, who suffered a fatal heart attack Monday.
Although this space is usually devoted to commentary regarding events, issues and circumstances specific to Ocean Pines or Berlin, the departure of this irreplaceable part of the papers’ existence puts these day-to-day affairs, internal squabbles and politics into perspective.
The importance of Ocean Pines election difficulties, or its recent court cases can’t be denied, just as the maybe, maybe-not development of the Margaritaville resort on the Boardwalk in Ocean City has everyone’s attention, while the demolition of the old Tyson Plant in Berlin is on everyone’s mind.
But as compared to the jolting loss of someone so well-known and so engaged in local affairs — and so tolerant of the journalistic independence exercised by these papers — these other matters are bumps in the road. Sooner or later, these concerns will be paved over and other issues, also deemed to be just as critical to the communities’ welfare, will arise.
The loss of Hale Harrison, however, will not be so easily forgotten at these papers, if only because of the reason he invested in them. Although some of the original investors — Mr. Harrison was not among them — might have believed owning a portion of a newspaper would serve them well in their public pursuits, Mr. Harrison stepped in almost a year later for one reason only: he did it to help prevent his friends from losing the money they put up early on in the paper’s development.
That’s it. He had no designs on its news or opinion pages and made that clear at the time. He also did it, as he would admit, against his better judgment.
Simply put, he did what his instincts told him not to do because his friends needed help. That’s important, as was his tolerance of a freewheeling (and occasionally wrong) editorial crew, and it’s a loss that will be felt a long, long time.