Not saying goodbye: Just so long, and thanks

By CHRISTIAN PIATT

Back in 1998, when I first came to Pueblo to work as an educational consultant for the school district, I sent a handful of writing samples to the Lifestyle editor, with the hope of picking up some arts reviews, and maybe a feature or two.

Unlike many editors with whom I have worked in the years following, this particular man responded quickly, positively and encouraged me to jump right in.

After teaming with the other Pueblo Chieftain reviewers for several months, the editor offered me the opportunity to do a feature story on a local student with special needs. The final product, though less than groundbreaking, was a real boost for a guy in his 20s hoping to make a career out of his passion for writing.

By the end of the 1998-99 school year, I was transferred to Seattle, and then Denver, and finally to Fort Worth, where I stayed while my new wife completed her seminary schooling at Texas Christian University. The work I had done with the Chieftain was the foot in the door I needed to break into doing work for several other papers and magazines in the years to follow.

In 2004 we were called as a part of her ministry back to – of all places – Pueblo, so I gave my old friend and editor a ring. He not only welcomed me back into the fold, but offered me my first chance to write my own weekly column. From there, I’ve had the privilege to go on to write columns and other pieces for several magazines and Web sites, as well as pen two books, edit a series of forthcoming young adult books and even consult on a new translation of the Bible. The field of professional writing is a lot like establishing credit; everyone wants you to have prior experience but few want to offer you the opportunity to gain it.

Marvin Read was that person for me. He not only took a chance on me, but he also encouraged me, even when my work was hardly up to the standards that it should be, perhaps because he saw some potential worth cultivating.

I honestly believe that I owe a debt of gratitude for the many rewarding opportunities that have followed since he allowed me to scribble down some reviews of “Annie” and other local productions, some 10 years ago.

Marv also has been a good friend, and though, with his departure this week from many years of service at the paper, he will no longer serve as my editor, I hope to maintain the bond of friendship we have shared. He is a man of great patience, wisdom, love and faith, and his contributions as a community leader and speaker have done much to promote tolerance, peace and a more ecumenical perspective to faith in our modest city.

Though I’m hardly impartial, I can say with confidence that Marv has developed one of the most engaging, thoughtful and substantive faith sections I’ve ever seen in a daily newspaper.

He’s consistently stood behind his writers, even when he didn’t entirely agree with them, recognizing that the freedom to share and debate ideas was paramount. He has taught me much about journalistic integrity, literary discipline and about how to find and hone my own voice as a writer within the greater American faith forum.

Marv will be missed by many, and certainly by me.

At the ripe young age of 70, he’s finally embracing the much-deserved rest that a lifetime of hard work has afforded him. If you see him on the streets of Pueblo, which you likely will, shaking hands on the sidewalk of dc’s on b street or working on a double scotch and water at one of the local taverns, make sure to let him know that, even though he may not have his mug on the front page of the Life section every Saturday, he’ll hardly be forgotten any time soon.

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