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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, June 6, 2010

Saying goodbye to trusted friend


By Lee Cataluna

It's difficult to try to sum up a life in an obituary, to get the right tone and to pick out the most significant tales from a lifetime of adventures, but finding that point of grace where the words just fall away and the person's spirit almost speaks for itself is a transcendent thing for a writer.

Newspaper writers have the honored task of writing story obituaries for people in our community. None of us ever thought there would be a need to write an obituary for the newspaper.

I lived through the end of sugar in Hawai'i. I was born into a family that had worked on the plantations for generations, and no one ever thought that rows and rows of tract homes would sprout up where sugar cane used to stretch and wave in the sun.

But the sugar industry did die and I had a front-row seat to that sad end, so maybe it's not so surprising to me that something as seemingly essential as a newspaper would go away, too.

The Honolulu Advertiser has been an authoritative voice in my life.

I grew up on the Neighbor Islands, and it was the paper we reached for if we were trying for an "A" on current events homework. If an event in Wailuku or Koloa got picked up by the Honolulu paper, we knew it was a big deal. If a Baldwin athlete got written up in The Advertiser sports page, that kid was a superstar.

My dad was interviewed by Advertiser writer Jan TenBruggencate on Kaua'i once, and we had the article framed.

After college, when I worked in morning radio on Kaua'i, I would wait for The Advertiser to thump against the station door before I started putting together my morning newscast. Some days most days the paper was read on air verbatim. When I worked as morning anchor at KHNL, my first task of the day was to drive to The Advertiser loading dock at three in the morning and pick up the paper for the station so we had stories we could rewrite for our show.

There was a goofy logo painted on the front door of The Advertiser building recently that proclaimed the paper "Hawai'i's complete source." The Advertiser was never the complete source of anything, but it was a trusted source and often the first place to start on a hunt for information.

I will miss working here. I will miss my colleagues as we scatter to the winds.

Mostly, I will miss The Honolulu Advertiser as a reader, because for nearly all my life, my day hasn't started until the rusty delivery van with the bad muffler came rumbling up the street and The Advertiser sailed onto the driveway.