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< News yin and yang | Main | A little more about Bob Reha >

Grief and admiration

Posted at 12:35 PM on June 10, 2007 by Bill Wareham

If you've been to the home page this weekend, you've probably noticed that MPR News reporter Bob Reha died of leukemia on Saturday.

I can't say much more about Bob here than we've said in the posted obituary. The truth is, I wasn't that close to Bob, certainly not when compared to many of our colleagues. I knew him well enough, however, to know that he was an immensely likable guy. I will grieve for him.

I can, however, use this humble space to share with you how Bob's colleagues rallied around him from the time he learned of his leukemia diagnosis earlier this year.

Some background: Bob worked in Moorhead, hundreds of miles from MPR headquarters in downtown St. Paul, in a small bureau staffed by reporter Dan Gunderson and a few others. He had daily contact with Kate Smith, his editor in St. Paul. The reporters who work outside the Twin Cities keep in pretty close contact via phone and email. A couple of times a year, Bob and the other non-metro reporters would come to St. Paul for some face-to-face contact with each other and the rest of us.

The point is, Bob had what might be called a long-distance relationship with most of his co-workers.

Yet, there was nothing long-distance about the response to Bob's challenge. Co-workers around the state pulled together in myriad ways to help. From Dan Gunderson shuttling Bob to doctor visits to fundraisers to help with the unforseen expenses that pile up in such situations to Kate Smith shaving his head during chemotherapy, the good folks at MPR did everything imaginable, and then some, to show support.

And it wasn't just limited to news department colleagues. I'm pretty sure many of the folks who organized a silent auction fundraiser last month had only the most limited contact with Bob, perhaps none at all. That kind of thing has been typical the last few months.

All of this is why, even in a time of grieving, I am filled with admiration for the people with whom I work.