Munro: Say goodbye, but don’t call him Bryan |

Munro: Say goodbye, but don’t call him Bryan

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
Byron Hetzler | Sky-Hi Daily News

Say goodbye To BYron

The Sky-Hi News, 424 E. Agate Ave., Granby, will host a public reception for departing photographer Byron Hetzler from 4-5 p.m. Friday, Jan 9. All are encouraged to visit the newspaper office and wish him well.

The first time I met Byron Hetzler my world brimmed with pristine promise, leavened with a hint of trepidation, as occurs only as one starts a new job in a new location.

Now that he’s leaving the Sky-Hi News, the happiness I feel for him as he is immersed in the heady mélange of emotions that attends new beginnings is tempered by the incontestable sadness of his imminent departure.

It’s difficult to know where to begin to chronicle his value to this publication and community, both as a professional and as a person. I’ll start with some irony.

There’s no shortage of it in the circumstances surrounding Byron’s departure. The same editor who united he and I professionally is the same editor who is now plucking him from our midst. In the industry vernacular, we sometimes call this poaching. But that would be unfair. For starters, she was the person very much responsible for starting the Sky-Hi News down the path that has led to this juncture. And I certainly do not begrudge Byron pursuing the opportunity.

But, well … his departure will truly mark the end of an era here. To say that Byron is a big part of the Sky-Hi News née Sky-Hi Daily News is like saying Peyton Manning is a big part of the Broncos passing game. In many respects, he, more than anyone else associated with this newspaper, embodies the institution in its current iteration.

In the seven and a half years since I began here as news editor and first encountered Byron, who started at the Sky-Hi about two weeks before I did, his photographs have graced the cover and inside pages of nearly 1,000 editions of this newspaper to the delight of readers across the county. And while we will adapt and move forward with alacrity, it is not an overstatement to say the Sky-Hi News will never be the same again.

Byron is a bottomless repository of institutional knowledge as well. His nearly three decades in Grand County has been of immeasurable value to us. He has been our conduit into high school sports, law enforcement and so many other aspects of everyday life here it is difficult to fathom.

Moreover, he was the sole remaining staff member who experienced the often tumultuous times of the Great Recession as a perfect economic storm battered our small operation. It will be a very different place without his thoughtfulness, smile, quick wit and perspective.

Nor will Grand County be the same in Byron’s absence. At the risk of earning the undying enmity of photographers everywhere — and it goes without saying that this does not apply to anyone with whom I may be discussing a professional arrangement — good shooters (newspaper photographers) have a reputation for being a tad eccentric, egotistical and even, on occasion, somewhat unacquainted with reality.

Not Byron. He’s as level-headed, selfless and hardworking as they get, and his knowledge, creativity and keen eye will be assets wherever he is.

But above all, he’s a fundamentally decent human being, a remarkably rare and cordial individual in this frenetic age of self-absorption. When he is gone, we will all realize the true value of his presence.

I already do. Aside from the obvious — that we’re losing an outstanding photographer and valuable employee — who else is going to appreciate my sardonic sense of newsroom humor? And who’s going to have my back when our content management system bares its fangs?

Come to think of it, Byron possesses one idiosyncracy worth noting. He doesn’t like to be called Bryan (or Brian). Those who know him well delight in doing so at opportune moments.

Alas, at this point, I only have two things to say: Damn you Autumn! And how could you Bryan?

Uh, sorry, couldn’t resist … just kidding. I wish you both nothing but the best in your new endeavors.

Byron, good night, and good luck. We’re gonna miss you.

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