Munro: Hugo Post, R.I.P.
January 29, 2015
Reporting and editing hundreds of stories per year can change one's perspective on the news. Incidents others might interpret as unusual or noteworthy sometimes pass as mundane to hardened newsroom denizens.
One story can fade into another, and sometimes in the crunch of deadline, expedience takes precedence over writing a perfect headline or crafting that precise turn of phrase. But one thing we prefer to preserve above all else is our basic humanity.
I was thinking about this recently while reading an email from Jennifer Post. You have no reason to recognize that name, and neither did I until I began reading her email.
Turns out she is the daughter of Hugo Post, who died on Cranmer Trail at Winter Park Resort on Jan. 21, 2015, at the tender age (by today's standards) of 62. The story about his death at the bottom of page 3 in the Jan. 23 edition ran under a diminutive headline that said, "Medical condition suspected in resort death."
In retrospect, pretty cold. Make that damned cold.
And here was an email from the man's daughter, not bitter, not accusatory; in fact, surprisingly warm.
By way of explanation — not excuse — I can point out that we received the information about Hugo's death late on deadline, that we were rushing to get out the last few pages and not necessarily thrilled about the prospect of running a story about someone who died on the slopes in the same edition celebrating the resort's 75th birthday. Honestly, I was a little relieved when the information arrived to find out it wasn't a skiing accident.
Thinking about Hugo Post as a beloved husband, father, brother, uncle or anything else he meant to those close to him was not top of mind in that moment.
Yet there it is, for posterity, that clinical, antiseptic headline.
It struck a chord with Jennifer.
"Please if you could … maybe mention these things in another article … It would give my mother and I great comfort. I don't want him to just be mentioned as a "resort death."
That struck a chord with me.
So, here are some of "these things" about Hugo Post, who I sincerely hope will not be remembered as just a "resort death."
"… he was a loud Dutchman," Jennifer wrote in a subsequent email. "He had a zest for life and everybody loved him. He was an incredible, kind man who would bend over backwards for anyone. And I know he will be remembered in Winter Park. I'm sure."
We reported that an autopsy was being conducted to determine Hugo's cause of death, but we don't have to wait for the results because his daughter let us know what happened.
"He went [to Winter Park] on Sunday 18th January for 10 days, and unfortunately he had a heart attack," she wrote. "The thing that gives me a slight smile is the fact he went quickly and that he was doing something he loved, skiing.
"The conditions apparently were beautiful that day and I'm sure those were the last thoughts going through his mind. It was his first run of the day. Cramner Trail, one of his favorite trails, which some of the locals are now calling 'Hugo's Trail.' He was an incredible father and an amazing husband. We are devastated for our loss. But he went in a place he loved."
In this business we have suspects, officials, sources, trustees, mayors, commissioners, defendants, officers, victims, politicians, prosecutors, lawyers, judges, saints, sinners and more labels than the letters on this page. But in the end, they're all what the rest of us are — human beings. Well, mostly.
Thanks, Jennifer, for reminding us of that. We're sorry for your loss.
Godspeed, Hugo Post.
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