Recalling a colleague and friend

October 19, 2003|by Tony Mulieri

It has been a year now since we lost our friend and colleague Darrell Kepler in The Herald-Mail newsroom. I can't believe a whole year has gone by since Darrell passed away.

Time doesn't stop for anything.

I first met Darrell in 1977. He was among those interviewing me for a job in the sports department. Darrell was the sports editor of The Morning Herald at the time and I was an inexperienced sportswriter coming from a weekly paper, yearning to get a job on a daily newspaper.

We were about the same age, but Darrell was years ahead of me in the newspapering part of life.

He gave me a chance and along with Rick Gano, now with The Associated Press in Chicago and Bob Fleenor, who split his time between The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail, we put out one heck of a sports section in the late '70s and early '80s.


And Darrell was the steady hand that held it all together.

We didn't have all the bells and whistles of today's computerized newsroom, but Darrell was so organized that he could send us all out on a heavy high school sports night and seemingly lay out the sports pages by himself.

I think he did it with mirrors.

I would go out to cover a game, come back and write the story and by the time I filed it to Darrell, he had the sports pages done and we were talking about the next day's paper.

On the nights Darrell was off, we all learned how difficult his job was.

But that was Darrell. Unflappable. World War III could be going on outside The Herald-Mail building, but Darrell could concentrate on the job at hand and get it done on time and get it right.

You couldn't ask for anything more.

But there was much more to Darrell.

As the years went by and we both moved over to the news side, Darrell became an integral part of The Herald-Mail's editing team. He brought that same calming style from sports to the news desk.

He was a real pro.

Darrell made the transition from sports to news with little effort, but I will always remember Darrell as the excellent sports editor that he was. He had a knack for knowing what game to highlight and what stories readers wanted to see.

I only saw Darrell get upset one time and that was when someone in the old composing room drew a mustache on his column mug, which at the time was more like a line drawing than a photo. It ran in the paper that way and Darrell found out who did it and told him what he thought of it.

But Darrell was simply a nice guy who was good at his job. He was a good family man and loved to talk sports.

Often we would sit at our desks during a downtime and swap stories about our sons and those frustrating Orioles. In one of those ironic Herald-Mail coincidences, his son Brian and my son Andy played against one another in the North-South football game one year. And I mean they were right across from each other on the field, butting heads.

I never butted heads with Darrell.

I just admired his work.

Tony Mulieri is the managing editor of The Daily Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7647, or e-mail him at

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