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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Todd back in Minnesota

Monday, April 2, 2007

Chris Todd's sayonara never really surfaced.

He cleared some stuff out of the office, left me with a chewed up water bottle and several folders worth of files and said he'd check back in a day or two. Only he didn't.

Part of me wanted him to do something emphatic. But there was no door slamming, no whooping and hollering, no teary goodbyes; rather, he slipped away quietly, probably just how he wanted it.

For his last issue, he dug through the record books and penned a feature on Alta's Dee Hinkeldey rather than write a farewell column.

A nice gesture, I thought, even though I'd suggested he write at least a few inches about his future.

During my first two weeks as sports editor I came across lots of people who hadn't a clue the old sports editor was leaving. Some think he's still here.

But at some point late last weekend or perhaps on Monday Chris packed up and left for Roseville, Minn., where he's about to start a new job covering sports (mostly in the Minnetonka area) part time for a small weekly in the Minneapolis suburbs.

At the very least, that should be said for the man who resided over these pages the past few years. People deserve to know, and he deserves the ink.

Regardless of what people thought of his work-good or bad-at the Pilot-Tribune, it's not my job to judge him. I knew the man for just two weeks, and during that fortnight I saw a weathered sportswriter who could turbo-chug Diet Cokes and Diet Dr. Peppers like he was getting paid per carbonated bubble.

He had a knack for cracking another open when there were already three sitting on the desk. He would stash them in drawers, as I found out while moving into his desk; he even left me one as a parting gift. (Too bad I don't like Diet soda.)

I also saw a man who had a wealth of sports knowledge and patience for training the guy who was replacing him. He handled all my questions without complaint, taught me at my pace and stopped to explain when I needed to hit rewind on the page layout. He could have hit the highway, begun packing or just taken some time to relax in between jobs.

But he didn't, and when you're starting a new job in a new part of the state, that's something you don't soon forget.

Ultimately I saw a man who, like Al Pacino's character in the film Insomnia, was tired. Very tired.

Chris couldn't sleep. He had sleep apnea, would sometimes nod off at the desk and was the first person to admit he had some serious health issues to address, and that he needed to take better care of himself.

If the past issues I've seen are any indicator, Chris had the photography down pat and put a lot of effort into this sports section.

He felt bad when he got the facts wrong and admitted that was happening all too often.

In Minnesota he'll be closer to the only family he has, his brother. And once he gets a handle on things and treats himself better, I think everyone would agree he'll be a lot better off.

Tom Renaud can be reached at trenaud@stormlakepilottribune.com.

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