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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Goodbye, Gordon

Gordon Webb is gone, and Kingston is an emptier place.

Webb, who died Monday at age 69 after battling a rare form of leukemia, was a champion of the little guy. He protested tax hikes, got school board candidates elected when he didn’t like the sitting trustees, often held politicians’ feet to the fire and wasn’t afraid to take on the local media if he disapproved of their coverage.

In his role as an advocate, Gordon sometimes was a thorn in people’s sides (mine included), but he was proud of that distinction. He also was proud of Kingston's public-access TV station, which he co-founded in the early 1990s and often used to promote his agenda.

The public-access endeavor is where Gordon and I converged — he as cameraman and occasional interviewer and me as on-again/off-again panelist on “Meet the Media,” a Channel 23 show that focused on how the local news media operated.

I appeared on the show several times in the late 1990s and early 2000s — usually alongside Freeman Political Editor Hugh Reynolds and/or then-Freeman reporters Bob Mitchell and Cynthia Werthamer. The purpose of the show was to discuss the process of newspapering, but “Gordo” (as Mitchell liked to call him) always tried to suck us into a debate of the day’s issues, particularly the ones closest to his heart. I rarely bit — because my role as the Freeman’s city editor demands that I remain objective, not take sides — but I respected Gordon’s tenacity and his passion.

I last saw Gordon a few months ago in the Uptown Kingston post office. He was cheerful and friendly but clearly not well. I learned only recently about how sick he was, and I was saddened by how quickly his death came.

Kingston is emptier without Gordon Webb, and so am I.



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