Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Farewell, Augie

One of the first -- and finest -- journalists I met when I moved to Iowa 25 years ago was Mike Augspurger.

It was soon after I joined The Ottumwa Courier as editor. I'm a little fuzzy on the details, but if I recall he started as a free-lance writer and eventually became an integral part of The Courier staff. After I moved on to Dubuque, and then-city editor Mary Sharp became editor, Augie stepped in as city editor.

Augie was blue-collar, opinionated, fun-loving. He even got himself elected mayor of Bloomfield, a county seat community south of Ottumwa, in the mid-1980s.

It's cliche, and overused, I know. But in Augie's case, it fits: He worked hard and played hard.

There wasn't a story he wouldn't tackle, a question he wouldn't ask. Sometimes that got him into trouble. But he kept driving.

In those days, we had a newsroom full of twenty-something journalists, and there wasn't a clock-watcher in the bunch. That included the newsroom clock as well as the clock at our favorite hangout, the Tom-Tom Tap, where Augie would often hold court.

Augie was found dead on Tuesday. He had experienced some health setbacks over the years, and his family had a history of heart trouble. He was just 52.

His final newspaper, the Burlington Hawk Eye, had the unfortunate duty to report on the death of its business editor. The Hawk Eye gave him a nice write-up, as did The Courier.

Farewell, Augie.

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