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41st Annual Professional Recognition Awards and Scholarship Banquet

April 27, 2019, 6 PM cocktails, 7 PM dinner

at Genesee Grande, 1060 East Genesee St, Syracuse

 Follow syrpressclub on Twitter

Our Rundown

Poynter

Robert R. Haggart

The Post-Standard

Herald-Journal

Herald American

“This is my valentine to Brenda Marie McCabe Haggart. Unfortunately, this valentine will not look or taste as good as those hearts that grade school teachers in Kansas helped me cut out and paste on big pieces of red paper. I can still taste the paste. It tasted almost as good as a peanut-butter sandwich. Writing this public confession of joy may seem a little arrogant on my part, Brenda, since I didn't ask you if I could do it. But you owe me one. My voice is gone.”
That’s how Robert R. Haggart began his column, published Feb. 14, 1997 in The Post-Standard. Haggart was a patient at Crouse Hospital at the time, courageously trying to beat back cancer in his bone marrow. For nearly a decade, Haggart gave hope to cancer victims and their families from across America by writing about his own battle. In 1989, Haggart was named the best columnist in New York by The Associated Press for his series of columns on his illness.

His Valentine column — which he ended with the words “Bob loves Brenda forever” — was his final piece. Haggart died 11 days later, on Feb. 25, 1997.

As a columnist, Haggart was a free-swinging advocate for the little guy, a bearded Harley-driving figure who needled politicians and bureaucrats like no other modern Syracuse journalist. He wrote about the forgotten, alcoholic men at Unity Acres, about married couples forced by government regulations to live in separate nursing homes, about ill people seeking miracles in a Yugoslavian village.

Nicknames that Haggart gave to local politicians — like Landslide Hennessy, for then DA Richard Hennessy, or Donuts Bernardi, for then Mayor Roy Bernardi — became part of the public lexicon.

Haggart worked for The Syracuse Newspapers for 39 years. He started with The Post-Standard on Sept. 13, 1958 as a copy boy and moved to the Ogdensburg Bureau office as a staff correspondent on June 24, 1959. He returned to the City Desk staff on Sept. 11 of that same year. In 1965, he transferred to the Herald-Journal before moving back to The Post-Standard, where he became Metro Editor on Oct. 28, 1977. Later, he was in charge of the newspapers' photography department and library.

He was The Post-Standard’s columnist during his final 15 years — a job that was fitting for the paper’s most colorful writer.

“This is a great job! On a 6 p.m. deadline you can goof off until 5:59 p.m., but God help you if there isn't something in an editor's hand one minute later,” he wrote.

After he was diagnosed with cancer, Haggart’s columns exposed a sensitive side that touched readers.

Dick MacPherson, former football coach for Syracuse University and the New England Patriots, found Haggart's determination in his fight against cancer so inspiring that he introduced him to the Patriots football players and held him up as a man of courage. Haggart's visit with the team helped spur them to victory over a then-unbeaten opponent, according to MacPherson.

Several hundred mourners attended his funeral service at St. Lucy's Church. In addition to his wife, Brenda, Haggart was survived by his daughters, Mallory, Sarah, and Rebecca.
 
 "Don’t be deluded into believing that the titular heads of the networks control what appears on their networks. They all have better taste."
--Edward R. Murrow

Wall of Distinction


Tim Atseff

Herald-Journal

Herald American

The Post-Standard

Tim Atseff has had only one employer in 40 years. He started at the Herald-Journal as a copy boy in 1965.
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