My first day at the Contra Costa Times was ... a long time ago. By then, I had enough experience under my belt that not much phased me. Still, it was a new job, a new city, and driving to work I wondered: Was this the right job? Would I fit in? Would the people like me?
Operating under my father's advice that if you're on time you're late, I arrived very early to an empty newsroom. Except for a man with a beard and wearing an old ball cap. He was sitting at a desk in the sports department. My new desk was a half a newsroom away. I went to it and sat down to await my new colleagues. After a few minutes, the man in the hat stood up and walked over to me and introduced himself. "I'm Gary Bogue," he said. "Welcome."
Then he sat down and started to fill me in on the paper, his roll, the people I'd work with and what I could expect. Ten minutes later it was like we'd known each other for years, and I knew that yes, this was the right job, in the right place and with at least one person, I fit in.
Gary had that unique ability to make everyone feel as if he were your best friend and that if you ever needed anything, ever needed an ear to listen to you or a shoulder to learn on, he was there.
What I found remarkable about him was that he seemed unflappable. While all else was chaos, Gary was calm and composed. His philosophy, at least that which he shared with me, is that what we did was important, but there were other important things in the world.
During my years at the paper, I often sought out his advice and he always, generously, warmly, offered it.
Many years have passed since I left California and worked with Gary. I was heartbroken when I heard the news of his death.
But I know this. I, along with all his colleagues, carry a bit of him in our hearts and minds, and most importantly, in how we interact with friends and colleagues ... and the world around us.