The coronavirus pandemic has taken a member of the extended Westword family.
Ward Harkavy was the associate editor of Westword in the mid- to late ’90s, when he schooled young journalists in the time-honored tradition of being a true newspaperman. In 1999, he left Denver for New York, where he became managing editor of the Long Island Voice, then an editor of the now-defunct Village Voice. His bio on Twitter reads: "Former hot-metal printer and former newspaperman. Destroyed both industries. Ex-Village Voice smartass. Every day I try to write part of Trump's obit."
Harkavy died on May 17, 2020, at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital of COVID-19. He is survived by his brother and sister-in-law, Jonathan and Nahomi Harkavy, and leaves behind a legion of friends, colleagues and journalists to whom he provided invaluable training.
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One of those colleagues, Cynthia Cotts, posted a great memorial on Facebook: "Unusually kind and empathetic with friends, Ward was a uniquely sharp and funny public intellectual. After retiring from journalism, he was an early adopter of social distancing, spending much of his time at his house in Long Beach, New York. There he devoured the news and engaged with public events on social media on a daily basis, attracting 2,444 followers on Twitter and 1,249 friends on Facebook. He joined the latter in 2009. When Facebook posed the question, 'Which side of your brain is dominant?' he offered a typically self-deprecating answer: 'Most accurate to say I'm right-brained, but mostly hare-brained.' When Facebook asked, 'Which newspaper are you?' he replied, 'Fuck me to tears! I'd rather be The Onion or The Weekly World News.' In person, he would mock his misfortunes while showing no trace of self-pity."
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Harkavy was raised in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and he never lost his down-home sensibility, his sense of humor...or his strong feeling that injustice had to be called out wherever he saw it, especially in the rapidly changing Denver of the ’90s.
He'll be missed, but dozens of Westword editors and writers who had the privilege of working with Ward can still hear him, offering cynical observations, advice (often very loudly), creative cusses ("Christ on a cracker" was one of the mildest) and encouragement to be the very best newspaperman possible.