Passing of Pete Hamill a loss to those who seek the truth

It’s with sadness we note the passing of Pete Hamill, who might be the last of a certain breed of journalist: self-taught, street-wise and colorful.

Hamill, 85, was a New York fixture for decades. The tributes that poured in about him included the words crusading, sentimental, passionate and “the quintessential New Yorker.”

A novelist as well as a newspaper columnist, Hamill was often in the midst of history-making events. In fact, he was one of the people who wrestled the gun from the hand of Sirhan Sirhan when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles in 1968.

The son of Irish immigrants, Hamill was a high school dropout who worked for the New York Daily News, the New York Post, Newsday, the Village Voice, New York magazine and Esquire. Hamill also wrote screenplays and several novels. His memoir, “A Drinking Life,” was a bestseller.

He wrote about many topics from boxing to politics to baseball to war.

The Associated Press story about his passing stated: “Pete Hamill was one of the city’s last great crusading columnists and links to journalism’s days of chattering typewriters and smoked-filled banter, an Irish-American both tough and sentimental who related to the underdog and mingled with the elite. Well-read, well-rounded and very well connected, Hamill was at ease quoting poetry and Ernest Hemingway, dating Jacqueline Onassis or enjoying a drink and a cigarette at the old Lion’s Head tavern in Greenwich Village.”

Newspapers have evolved a great deal since Hamill stopped writing for them. But he still should be an inspiration for all who aspire to become journalists.

The New York Press Club issued this statement: “Pete Hamill was an inspiration to generations of reporters who reveled in his unique style of storytelling and his gifts as a writer and reporter who spoke truth to power.”

Hamill’s death is another reminder that the power of truth is something that will always be important, which always should matter.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said “Pete’s death is going to leave a hole in the heart of New Yorkers.”

It will leave a hole in the heart of all who appreciate hard-nosed, truth-seeking unique writers.


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