To the editor:
I’m incredibly sad to learn of the passing of my former coworker and my friend, Jeff Webster.
As an aspiring journalist, I walked into the Perry Chief and asked how I could help in 2001. They handed me a camera — a film camera (look that one up, kids) — and I was off taking blurry football photos and developing them in a darkroom (another reference some of you won’t get.)
The next year, a big man named Jeff walked in and pulled up a desk next to me as the sports editor at the Chief.
You never, ever had to guess where Jeff’s passions lay — he worshipped God as a staunch Roman Catholic on Sundays, Bear Bryant and Alabama on Saturday and did whatever rain dance he could to punish Bruce Pearl as part of his undying allegiance to Illinois basketball.
I shared many afternoons talking sports with Jeff as he penned his stories about harriers, thinclads and other adjectives I’d never heard used. I listened to him hammer away at his keyboard weekly, writing his columns to the Observant Reader. I admired how much he loved to write. I liked it, but Jeff loved it.
I’ll always have the great memories — coming in to my desk covered in police tape after an unfortunate run in with Perry’s finest the night before I left for college. Sitting with him after the state track meet, sobbing knowing it was over — and Jeff, not missing a beat, saying “Why are you crying? Ninety-nine percent of these wannabes will be working at Pizza Hut to pay their bills in three weeks, and you’ll be running in college.” He knew how to cheer me up even in my darkest, saddest moments.
I’ll miss my friend. Hope he’s reading this somewhere, smiling and complaining that Bama really did get screwed Saturday night. We’ll have to talk about it when I get there.