Harry W. McCawley, 77, died Thursday afternoon, September 28, 2017, at the Our Hospice of South Central Indiana in-patient facility in Columbus after a 10-month battle with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow.
Although he was born and raised in Bardstown, Kentucky, he came to Indiana in 1963 — fresh from graduation at the University of Notre Dame — to become the Assistant Sports Editor of the Daily Journal in Johnson County.
He loved to tell the story about his mother waking him up from a nap to hand him a newspaper classified ad for the Indiana job, along with a bus ticket north.
“I guess she was tired of my snoozing on her couch and was suggesting employment was a good goal,” he often told his friends with a smile.
Three years later, Harry was promoted to Sports Editor at The Republic (called The Evening Republican at that time). He then moved to Columbus, the place that was to be his home for the rest of his life.
A series of promotions led him to the title of Associate Editor — where he wrote columns and editorials that were to bring him both the praise of his readers and a long series of awards from state and national press associations.
As he embraced the community, he also accepted more and more leadership roles — sometimes out front and sometimes in the background — working for the betterment of the people in the city he had grown to love.
The history and specified accomplishments of Harry, in a wide range of journalistic and community activities, have been well covered by The Republic over the days since his death. His family and friends appreciate the recognition given to him, but Harry would undoubtedly have been a bit shy about it all.
In spite of all of the well-earned praise and public attention he received, Harry was a common guy who never succumbed to an initiated ego over his chosen work.
The place where his pride rose to the top was in the area he considered far more important and meaningful than any professional or community accomplishment — the family life and love he and his wife, Julie, built and shared. When the conversation turned to family things, Harry’s eyes began to sparkle and his pride swelled.
He and Julie celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary in August. It was a marriage where the occasional bumps in the road — present to one degree or another in every family — were met with love, respect and commitment.
Harry let Julie be Julie and she returned the favor.
Harry’s pride in his son, Chris, a military veteran and an Indiana State Police officer, was hard for any acquaintance to miss — as was his love and pride in daughter-in-law Misty, a nurse at Columbus Regional Hospital. And to witness Harry at his over-the-top best, one only had to ask him about his four grandchildren — Kirsten, Casey, Carly and Gavin. They grew up in the home of their parents, just down the street from Poppi and Gummi (as they call their grandparents to this day).
A few days before his death, Harry told a close friend that he felt “so thankful and so lucky to have such a loving family. Nothing in life can be better than that.”
And his family feels the same about Harry.
Since his passing, a great number of people have expressed their admiration for Harry and appreciation for all he gave as a storyteller, writer, historian, veterans’ advocate, community leader and positive influence on the world we share.
If he could, he — no doubt — would thank The Republic, the Columbus community and all of his readers for the opportunity to live a fulfilling and meaningful life doing the things he loved so much.
Harry was born August 27, 1940, in the family home in Bardstown, Kentucky, the son of Fredrick Holman and Dorothy Vance McCawley.
Harry is survived by his wife, Julie L. Gillis McCawley; his son, Christopher (Misty) McCawley of Columbus; grandchildren, Kirsten, Casey, Carly and Gavin McCawley, all of Columbus; nieces and nephews, Dorothy McCawley, Mary (George) Zinger, and Rick McCawley, all of Florida and Benjamin (Jane) McCawley, Joseph McCawley, Kelley McCawley, and Anne (Roy) Dennis, all of Arizona.
Harry was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Benjamin, James, Preston, and Stewart McCawley; and a sister, Margaret Ann McCawley.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, October 7 at North Christian Church, 850 Tipton Lane, Columbus, with Nic Cable, minister of the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation of Columbus officiating.
Family and friends may gather for visitation from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday at Barkes, Weaver & Glick Funeral Home on Washington Street and from noon until service time Saturday at the church.
Military honors will be presented by the Indiana Army National Guard Honor Guard and the Bartholomew County Veterans Honor Guard. Inurnment will be at City Cemetery at a later date.
Memorial contributions may be made to Our Hospice of South Central Indiana, Columbus Philharmonic Symphony, Bartholomew County Historical Society, or the donor’s choice of charities.
Online condolences and special memories may be shared with the family at barkesweaverglick.com.