The Last Words

Fast cars and even faster boats — Mike Myer loved them all. And over the years, we heard his many stories about both. From his teen years speeding around Wetzel County to his antics in college at West Virginia University, Mike had a story.

Maybe that’s what it takes to be a good newspaperman — knowing what stories will interest the readers. And when it came to editorials, Mike had his finger on the pulse of local, state and national issues and delivered them in his unique style.

Mike died Wednesday leaving a huge hole in the family of newspaper colleagues and friends who often allowed him to repeat one of his stories just because we knew he loved telling them.

In this business, we often take one another for granted, so when we do compliment one another, it means a lot. Mike’s sudden passing came as a shock to many who thought he would always be there. Since Wednesday, I have heard from many former reporters, editors and friends of the newsroom, each with a comment or story of their own about Mike. I’d like to share a few with you.

Longtime newswoman Linda Comins said, “Mike Myer was the consummate newspaperman with the proverbial ‘ink in his blood.’ He worked tirelessly to ensure that freedom of the press be maintained in our society. As a writer and editor, he cherished his connections to the communities from which he hailed. He was kind and generous with his time to people from all walks of life. As the newspapers’ executive editor, he was fair and kind to his staff and cared about their wellbeing.”

Phyllis Sigal referred to Mike as the definition of a gentleman. “He always had an open door — even when the door was closed. You could peer into the plate glass window of his office, and no matter what he was doing, he’d wave you in. And listen. Really listen. He was one of the most honest and straightforward people I knew … but, tactful and kind, as well. I will miss him.”

Betsy Bethel also spoke of Mike’s easy-going manner. “I worked for and beside Mike for 19 years. He was the executive editor but would make the coffee nearly every morning and, more times than not, deliver a cup to my desk. He never interrupted or barged in, but always assumed what you are doing was more important, so he’d say, ‘When you get a minute, yell at me.’ … Proud to be a Mountaineer; so proud of his wife and daughters and grandchildren. Yet personally, humble.”

Recently retired Robert “Bubba” Kapral offered his thoughts. “Mike Myer was a gentle giant in our industry.

He had his finger on the pulse of the political arena like no one else. Mike offered me incisive counsel when I was managing editor and executive sports editor. Mike knew the newspaper business better than anyone. It was an honor to work alongside him.”

As for myself, I appreciated how Mike would challenge me in my early career when I covered Wheeling’s city hall. He let me know that if I didn’t ask the tough questions, I would never have the respect of those I had to cover. He was right, of course.

But having worked with Mike for over three decades, we shared many good and bad times. Mike was responsible for pulling me out of my darkest day when I made a huge error in reporting. I wanted to quit, walk away from it all. He didn’t humor me as he often did, but sat me down and reminded me of his own errors over the years and promised I would get past mine. Again he was right.

Of all the words written in tribute to Mike Myer these past few days, I hope he and his family know that his ‘work family’ will truly miss him and we thank them for sharing him with us.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.


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