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

Monday, April 21, 2008

Remembering Dave

Shortly after writing about the death of Danny Federici (see below), I learned about the passing of the Freeman's longtime systems manager, Dave Hyatt.

Same age. Similar disease. Equally unfair.

Dave was a giant in our building -- able to juggle numerous problems at once and solve all of them. You sometimes could see the frustration on his face and hear it in his voice when the work became overwhelming, but he always found a way to get through it.

And Dave, more than anyone else on our staff, had to be available virtually around the clock. An off-hours computer problem, database crash, power outage or other such crisis meant Dave got called at home, had to drop whatever he was doing (eating, showering, sleeping, watching a football game), come to the office and put the pieces back together. And seeing him walk through the front door a few minutes later always resulted in a collective sigh of relief among the staff, because we knew everything would be back to normal soon.

We used to hold our breath when Dave went on vacation, hoping nothing too terrible would go wrong while he was, say, playing golf in California. Yes, others in the building (myself included) knew how to get around some of the minor computer glitches and keep the systems running, but no one had Dave's knowledge or abilities, and we always secretly feared "The Big One" would happen with Dave nowhere nearby and that the newspaper would be unable to publish.

We also used to wonder how we'd get by if Dave ever left the Freeman. Eight months ago, when he began the sick leave from which he never would return, we began to find out. People who knew some of Dave's tricks sharpened their skills, others were taught, and a new systems expert joined the staff and began the process of filling Dave's big shoes.

And somehow, we still manage to put out a paper every day.

No one will ever be able to replace Dave. But the people he leaves behind will work hard to live up to his professional ethic and make him proud.



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