TribLIVE

| Opinion/The Review

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Saturday essay: Jerry

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
 

I first met Jerry Vondas nearly 30 years ago. He was the old pro at The Pittsburgh Press. I was the new kid at United Press International.

Fumbling with a Downtown map at the corner of Fifth Avenue and I Don't Know Where I Am, running late for an appointment with some muckety-muck, Jerry approached.

“You look lost,” he of short stature topped by one of his natty signature hats said with the broad smile of a best friend. “Where do you need to be?”

Quickly I was not on my way. For as anyone who knew Jerry knows, his help was comprehensive. Eventually, I was off in the right direction. But not before Jerry armed me with a wealth of information — from where to find the best breakfast (“Call me sometime, I'll introduce you to the owner; he's a nice boy”), to where the then-new subway stations were (“Oh, they're nice, ah, yeah”), to a sales pitch for the Greek Food Festival at Holy Trinity (“Very good, very good”).

And for the past 19 years, I had the privilege of working with Jerry at the Trib, first as his night editor when he was doing freelance work, then, when he came aboard full-time in 1998 and began a masterful run writing feature obituaries, some of the most important reporting a newspaper does.

Jerry was injured in an auto accident in March. He died of a related infection on Tuesday. He was 83. His desk in the southwest corner of the main Trib newsroom, left untouched for the last five months right down to his seat cushion, was adorned with a single rose and a simple “R.I.P. Jerry” note on his computer screen.

Yes, we lost a great journalist and a wonderful friend at the Trib this week. But Pittsburgh lost a treasure.

— Colin McNickle

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Editorials

  1. Sunday pops
  2. EPA diktats: Pushing back
  3. The Box
  4. Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances
  5. Kittanning Laurels & Lances
  6. Jamestown revealed: History comes alive
  7. Regional growth
  8. The Thursday wrap
  9. Saturday essay: Garden chances
  10. Medicare @ 50: Sick, getting sicker