My pal is gone.
Rick Regan is the second of my close, longtime friends to be taken from us this year. I cannot fathom a tribute fitting the master of words that I could write and he’d approve.
Our first meeting 18 years ago was in the newsroom at WCBS-TV. He was the copy editor or what we called the co- producer. He didn’t give me as much trouble with my copy as he did with his gnarly, gruff “go away, kid… you’re bothering me” attitude.
I can’t say why but I persisted in becoming his friend. Rick taught me so much about the business and ten times more about life, love, the Sox and tenacity. This was a man who simply did not let go.
And he was the same way when he met me… as ME. He refused to let go of our friendship, now established and ingrained. He told me he stood up for me against people I didn’t even know, who mocked me and laughed at the change I embraced and he accepted, even though like most folks he struggled to understand it. Anyone could have stayed silent. But not Rick. He made it clear: “that’s my friend and you’d better quit it. Now.” And they did, at least around Rick.
He was the kind of friend who could tell me, as he did once: “God, you’re putting on weight! What’s wrong? You need to run that off. Come run with me!”
He delighted in hoisting my oldest son on his broad shoulders when we took our son to see “The Gates” in Central Park in 2005.
We thought it was lovely, creative, cool and imaginative. Rick declared: “It’s okay, so long as it doesn’t interfere with my run.”
My favorite Rick story, though, dates back to that awful day in September 2001. We were just beginning our coverage of that terrible tragedy when it occurred to me, I need to make a phone call. Yes, I did call home, but first: I called Rick. “What?” was his “this better be important” acid-toned answer when he picked up the phone; clearly I had woken him up. “Get up. Turn on the TV. Get in here.” I didn’t even say it was me. I hung up and went back to work. Fifteen minutes later, he was at his desk pounding out copy. That was Rick. He later thanked me. None was necessary.
Rick was the light of every newsroom. And when I wound up at WABC- TV, all I had to say was “I’m a friend of Rick Regan’s.” And I was “in” with the old guard (or at least the good guys in the old guard; the rest were just jealous).
He was the last guy you would imagine with a mirror glued to his cubicle — not to check out his wild red hair — but so he could see the managers if they snuck up behind him! He loved showing that off.
And he loved words. He loved them almost as much as Laurie, but he loved her beyond words. He told me once she was everything he lived for, and I never doubted it.
I will never be the writer Rick was, try as I might. So, instead of wasting effort, time and risking his heavenly wrath, I shall instead quote an irish poet… Who is now buying a round in the honor of my friend, Rick Regan.
“A Drinking Song”
by W. B. Yeats
Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.
I look at pictures of my friend now and find it so hard to believe he’s gone forever from our earth. I would have thought the world would end first, and Rick would be there to write about it all.
Rick: say hello, please, to Art, to your brother, to our dads, and all those waiting to greet you. I love you, Rick.
And I say to you and to all who took the time to read this, as Rick always said to me, instead of “goodbye:”