Columnist championed causes

I’ve been flooded with memories of Harry McCawley since learning of his passing. It seems only right to offer my farewell salute by using his long-standing platform, The Republic.

Harry and I first connected while watching our kids play softball as we passed the time sharing stories of our families and lives. In the following years, I came to appreciate the key role Harry was playing through his recognized and respected words in newspaper columns and editorials.

During the 12-year FOCUS 2000 era when Robert Stewart was mayor, the rallying cry was often: “We’ve got to talk to Harry.” Harry knew and understood our community. He was the best source for assessing situations, for sharing important news and stories, and for championing causes if he deemed them appropriate.

The renovation of Mill Race Park, the Front Door Project, Streetscape and Project Self-Sufficiency all benefited from Harry’s effective way of showcasing these efforts. His witty columns about Streetscape, where he dubbed me the “brick lady,” and joked about each subsequent deadline for brick sales helped garner enthusiasm that resulted in over 6,600 bricks being “adopted.”

But make no mistake, Harry was a consummate professional when it came to newspaper ethics. He was careful to never personally state his opinions and always worked to be sure varying opinions or sides of issues were heard.

Through the years his columns have entertained, educated and often moved us to laughter and yes, even tears. Certainly his respect for all veterans and for Bartholomew County history have shown through in many of his articles. Harry had a remarkable gift for capturing a person or an event in a way that truly honored the subject. A person could claim to have truly “arrived” if Harry wrote a column about him or her.

A favorite memory is the night Columbus received the designation of All America City. Harry had been a wonderful partner with the Leadership Bartholomew County group and other volunteers in preparing the application and was part of the presenting team in Oakland, California, when we heard our name called as a winner. Harry and I hugged, laughing and crying as we vowed to continue working to make our city the best ever. And I can say without question that Harry did that to his very last breath.

Thank you, Harry, for your friendship and for your commitment to our community. God speed, my friend.

– Sherry Stark, Columbus