These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

death of hank reest

hank reest was a pilot who was aboard a beechcraft airplane that crashed at tulip ciyt airport march 6. he and pilot eric stam were up front and a woman from grand rapids was sitting in the back. reest and stam both sustained serious head injuries, while the woman walked away with minor injuries.

reest had been in critical condition since then at sprectrum in grand rapids. mark got a call from one of the local mortuaries late tuesday evening if it was too late for an obit for the following day's paper. that's how we found out reest had died that afternoon.

so being that it was in the evening, it fell on me to make the necessary calls and attempt to write something. i had just returned from a meeting when mark b. told me abuot the plan. i didn't panic; i simply accepted that it was to be done.

so i pulled up some of the stories that had been written and looked up some of the names that had commented for those articles. i had the airport manager in mind and sure enough his name was there. also, i found out reest had been a swimming coach at west ottawa and had earned many state championshps. so i talked to alan and he gave me a n umber. all i needed was a family member, which is the best source ofr info. if all else fails, get the family member.

again, i turned to the sprts dept. they helped me get a number of a family member througha sports contact. after two calls, i got through to reest's son. i interviewed him and it went smoothly.

after the interviews were done, notes transcribed, i set to write it. it flowed like nobody's business. i'm not saying it was the greatest story in the world or anything, but i was proud of it. i guess i was proud because i didn't have high expectations that i'd get anywhere with it.

it was a rare moment when the stars are aligned, the gods in your favor and all the right cards fall n your lap, to name a few cliches. it happens infrequently, but when it does, it feels good.

i think, through the various comments, i presented a nice picture of reest as a pilot, coach, business owner and family man.


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You did do a fine job on that story, RG. Even your supervisor commented on it. Nice going.

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I agree, you're article was very well written. I was a good friend of Hank and Judy Reest and you honored Hank well. Thank you.

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