So Long, Michael...

Thursday, February 22, 2018

So Long, Michael...

My initial reaction was one of shock, though not surprise.

William Michael Pitcher, Former Editor of The Southampton Press Western Edition, Dies February 21

Or as it was known when "W. Michael Pitcher" edited it from its offices on Mitchell Road, and I wrote for it as "Waldo Lydecker," The Hampton Chronicle-News.

Michael wanted to hire me to write a weekly column in 1982, and I told him that he'd better first clear it with his publisher, Donald Louchheim.

"It was his idea," I was told, and image my surprise as Don, father of the current publisher Joe Louchheim, and I had had a routinely contentious relationship since he'd acquired the then three local weeklies covering Southamp­ton Town circa 1971.

(The column, which was placed on the top right of the Letters page for the better part of seven years, was entited, natch, "On The Beach.")

And it was Michael who fired me in December 1988, again at Don Louchheim's direction, for an Editorial decision he'd made and for which I took the sack.

I quietly called him on it, and he knew that I knew that he was being, um, pusillanimous, but I also understood the hierarchy of the newspaper. We came to an under­stand­ing that I would be allowed to walk the plank rather than summarily be tossed over the side.

But we remained cordial over the subsequent 29+ years, and while I knew he's been in poor health which had necessitated relinquishing his position as "William M. Pitcher," Director of Communications for the Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature, I didn't realize how serious it was.

(Political "flack-catcher" is a common refuge of many former newsmen; cf; John Miller.)

I have every expectation that the Westhampton Beach Saint Patrick's Day Parade Committee, for which Michael marched as the 2012 Grand Marshal, will be remembering him, as well as Father Pete Colapietro, when they take to the streets next month.


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