The picture you see with this blog post is of a man who was an ardent, avid — occasionally ferocious — critic of High Plains Blogger.
His name? Andrew Ryan. He and I worked together for several years at the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas. We parted company years ago. We once were friendly to each other.
Andy died this morning, reportedly of a massive stroke. I learned of his dire peril this past weekend from a mutual former colleague. I want to honor his memory with a brief remembrance of his frequent criticism of this blog. You see, I long have welcomed criticism because it often kept me humble. Andy’s rejoinders often were of that quality.
He almost without fail would respond to items I published that were critical of Donald J. Trump. I once asked Andy why he supported the president. He responded only with a scathing response on the quality of the opposition that sought to face him; I guess he felt Trump deserved re-election by default, that no one lining up to run against measured up to the incumbent.
Andy and I got into a beef some years ago over something I wrote on High Plains Blogger. We once were “friends” on Facebook. That relationship ended. He accused me of severing it; I don’t recall precisely how it happened, but I accepted Andy’s version of it, given that his memory was much sharper than mine.
Accordingly, we maintained a relationship only when he would blast my thoughts to smithereens. I grew to accept his responses as “going with the territory” of publishing this blog.
But as I noted already, Andy Ryan’s criticism often made valid points. He would call me out and in a style reminiscent of the late journalist Tim Russert, he would remind me of what I had said in earlier blog posts, which to his way of thinking contradicted by latest assertions.
Thus, news of his passing today fills me with conflicting emotions. Although we weren’t friends as I define the term, I still mourn his death. Andy’s time on Earth is over at a most unexpected time and in an equally unexpected fashion.
May he rest in eternal piece. My task going forward is to wonder when I write the next criticism of the current president: How would Andy respond?