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Monday, June 27, 2011

Nick Charles

You knew the day was coming.  Yet, it did little to ease the sadness.

Nick Charles passed away Saturday.  He was CNN's first sports anchor, going back to the day CNN signed on in June of 1980.

I liked his style.  There was a bit of an attitude, but he was never bigger than the stories he covered.

Former co-worker Keith Olbermann, who says very few nice things about anybody, said Charles brought the new CNN the credibility its sports department needed.  He was right.

CNN had the right approach.  Do sports.  Don't do comedy.

Nick Charles went public with his fight against bladder cancer several months ago.  I stumbled across a newspaper story at the time, and was struck by Charles' courage and honesty.  I found an e-mail address somewhere, and I dropped him a line.  A day later there was a reply.  Charles wrote that notes of best wishes from around the country made him feel better.  Charles added that he liked knowing his work, and his life were appreciated.  It gave him what he called "validation."

I'm not sure if I'd want to spend my final days in front of a computer and keyboard, but I sensed that corresponding helped ease Charles' pain.

Recently, Nick Charles said he knew he was in a fight he couldn't win.  There were some newspaper interviews, along with a Father's Day profile on CNN.  It was like a farewell tour.  The courage that prompted my e-mail a couple years ago was still there.

Nick Charles was 64.