Maybe you’ve known someone like this individual.
Really smart. Lots of what’s called “institutional knowledge” of a community. Great word skills. A historian who could recite in minute detail the unfolding of significant events.
Add to that a heart that seemed bigger than his body.
That’s how I am attempting to describe a longtime friend and colleague who, I have just learned, died early today. His name was Julian Galiano.
I worked with Julian for several years at the Beaumont Enterprise way down yonder on the Gulf Coast of Texas. We struck up an almost-immediate friendship.
We were both of Mediterranean descent — he was Italian, I am Greek — and he picked up on that right away. He’d greet me with common Greek sayings. I’d respond with the tiny bit of Italian I know. We laughed a lot about large and trivial things.
I was struck almost immediately at how much he knew about Beaumont and the surrounding area. He was dedicated deeply to Lamar University, where he earned his degree. He could recite facts about people and events related to Lamar.
It dawned on me early on that I needed to rely on this guy as a source for local knowledge. I was new to the region. Julian knew that and always made himself available to this new guy — me — whenever I needed to fill in some blanks to understand the full context of a story.
Not long after I learned what a valuable source he was, it occurred to me that the newspaper that employed us both was underutilizing this guy’s talent. He was a sports copy editor, which he loved doing. I concluded that he needed to be the city editor of the newspaper, the newsroom’s chief line editor, the guy who made assignments to reporters, told them where to look for leads, gave them tips on who to call, what to ask, where to go.
I told Julian all of that. He laughed. He wanted no part of it. He was happy doing the job to which he was assigned, which was to make reporters’ raw copy more suitable for publication.
Julian and I stayed in touch for many years through social media — and through occasional phone calls — after I left Beaumont for the Texas Panhandle. And almost without fail, he would ask about my family: How’s Kathy doing? And how about Peter and Nathan?
I’m grateful that we never lost contact.
Now he’s gone. What a huge loss for those who called him colleague and friend.
This one hurts. A lot.