Remembering Jim Rizzuto: A West Hawaii Today institution

Remembering Jim Rizzuto: A West Hawaii Today institution

Postautor: Angel92 » 13 lip 2017, o 03:34

As a former sports editor summed it up to me simply: people like us will come and go at this paper. But Jim Rizzuto is an institution.
Through the prime and then tumultuous times of print media, which West Hawaii Today saw multiple owners, publishers, editors and writers, Rizzuto — the man who knew about every tight fishing line and catch in Kona — was the constant.
That sports editor, I learned, was spot on.
For 46 years, West Hawaii Today’s pages have showcased his writing. However, that sadly came to an end of July 2, when Rizzuto lost his battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 78.
For the Big Island, his readership worldwide and all of us who worked with him through the years, Rizzuto was a dream catch.
The long-time Hawaii Preparatory Academy math teacher cracked the code and found the formula to not only be consistent, but to be consistently great.
Through thick and thin — weeks that were light on bites, and ones where there were too many to count — he always found a way to make it work.
Every Sunday evening, the column and Big-Fish List would be waiting in my inbox. He never missed his deadline.
Once and a while, Jim would send a note saying he would be a little late with his column — maybe around 5:30 p.m. Most of the time, it was because he had too many ledes to chase down to squeeze into his column.
Still, more often than not, he had his fish-filled stories filed well-ahead of schedule.
We had two rules in the newsroom to live by when it came to Jim’s column: never edit it down for space (which one copy editor learned the hard way) and never — ever — use marlins as the plural of marlin.
The second rule was most evident after a email exchange we had in 2015, after his name had been printed as “Phil Rizzuto” under one of the photos — a rookie mistake by a newbie on the desk that slipped through.
“Phil Rizzuto takes a helluva photo — even though he has been dead for eight years,” he wrote, referencing the Yankees’ Hall of Famer. “I’ve actually been called ‘Phil’ a lot in my life but never by anyone under 70… I’ll be OK, as long as he doesn’t ever say ‘marlins’ in my column, captions, or headlines.”
Just a bit of humor from the man who spent nearly half a century sharing tales of wild encounters, big fish and — sometimes — even bigger personalities.
But most importantly, Rizzuto told stories — ones that would have been lost between barstools and water coolers if not documented in Willie Stargell Authentic Jersey his writing.
There’s no amount of words that can sum up what Rizzuto’s countless contributions have meant to this paper and the community.
That became even more apparent after his passing, when his followers from all walks of life started to send in letters with their memories and thoughts.
Some had never stepped foot on a boat, but felt like savvy sea captains from reading his work. Others were former students of his at HPA, who couldn’t believe their superhero, math wiz teacher and famous newspaper columnist was gone.
But for most, they just wanted to say thank you to the man who chronicled their tales and immortalized their battles on the sea.
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