Bartels’ legacy will live on

Adam Larck

The Tri-County area and community journalism lost a leader on Friday.

DeWayne Bartels, an invaluable member of the Times Newspapers group for 22 years, was found dead in his home on Friday morning. He was 53.

While I didn’t have the pleasure for knowing him a long time (a year and a half), I still have fond memories of working with him.

DeWayne was the type of writer to never turn down a story. No matter what was suggested, he’d always try to find an exciting angle to entertain readers. And entertain he did. Comments have flooded in from readers that loved his stories and writing style.

He was always entertained himself as well. He would come into work excited about heading out to wherever he was going to whatever story he was working on. He enjoyed his work to the fullest, and it always showed.

Back in the newsroom, though, we got to see a lot more of his quirks while we worked with him. Even though he was serious about his work, he also took the time to joke around with the staff as well.

I lost count of how many times he would call us whippersnappers at meetings as we joked about how things used to be compared to now. He’d also joke about his computer knowledge with me whenever he’d need help.

He also loved to play pranks from time to time. Probably one of the memorable ones was when the Morton editor, Chelsea Peck, was on vacation. She came back to find his trademark messy desk had been duplicated at her desk. It was filled to the brim with Pepsi bottles, papers and more.

Besides joking, though, he also was always helpful to those who asked for it. He’d take an interest in whatever story we were working on, and would always give feedback on how it was shaping up if you asked for it. I never knew DeWayne to turn down helping someone anyway he could.

“DeWayne was my first editor,” Mary Youngman Vecco-Newman said on Facebook. “That was back during the 1988 - 1989 school year, when I was a student reporter for the ‘Harbinger’ at ICC, my first year in the journalism program. He was so patient with all of us, and always willing and available to answer our questions and explain procedures. He was a wealth of knowledge and a nurturing soul, a kind and generous man. I truly enjoyed working with him, and feel blessed to have counted him among my friends. A friend that I now will miss even more, knowing that I won’t be able to see him the next time I’m in town. RIP, DeWayne. Every time I hear a quote attributed to ‘Bartlett’s Famous Quotations,’ I’ll think of you.”

He was also proud of his family at work as well. He always brought his granddaughter in during take your grandchild to work day, and had a photo on his desk showing off his children as well. He always smiled when talking about them, as he was proud of them all.

“DeWayne Bartels was my father-in-law and the best dad that a person could ask for,” Nicole Bartels said on Facebook. “He loved his family and friends more than the world and was dedicated to his job. He worked so hard. He would do the world for any and everyone around and would give you the shirt off his back. He was an exceptional man and we will all miss him so much. Life will not be the same without him.”

I know it may sound like I’m rambling, and I probably am. Even as I sit here on Saturday writing, I’m still not sure of how to write down all my feelings and memories of working with him.

To his family, I wish them the best and offer my deepest sympathy as they try and get through this trying time. To the members of the community that knew him, I ask that you keep his memory alive by never taking things for face value and always looking for the true story. To DeWayne, keep on searching for the best stories up there, and don’t let anything stop you from finding it.