Monday, January 3, 2011

Remembering Steve Repko

Former sports copy editor and baseball columnist Steve Repko lost a two and a half year battle with a variety of illnesses Dec. 31. He was 58.
"Rep" as he was sometimes called could be curt, sometimes short-tempered, and demanding around the workplace. But his heart was in the "old school" of journalism. He took pride in the product and tried to be an influence on others to do their very best.
I had a couple of shaves with Steve which left a cool relationship for a while. But looking back, I think his heart was in the right place. He meant well even though his comments to fellow workers could be critical.
I began visiting Steve when he was in Ford Hospital then later in a rehab facility in Livonia. Several of us from the Oakland Press were on hand to help facilitate his move back to his childhood home in Ypsilanti.
Confined to a wheelchair, or walker, Steve fought hard to walk unassisted. He eventually accomplished that only to lose strength in legs. He never quite recovered after that.
On kidney dialysis three times a week, other medical issues began closing in on him. But whenever I called him or visited he always showed a positive and upbeat side.
After moving home, he told me several times he was determined to walk into Ford Field for a Tigers game and next on the list was to play golf. He got to Ford Field where fellow writers gave in a standing "o" but didn't live to get the golf game in.
I'll remember Steve for never complaining or saying "why me." He was always most grateful for anything anyone did for him.
When we returned for the birth of our grandson in the U.K. there was a message from Steve on my phone. "Hey you old fisherman, give me a call." I usually responded with something like, "how are you doing you broken down sports writer?" It was all good fun.
So now, Steve's suffering is over. I hope he's in a better place. So long Steve.

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