Typing on a tear-soaked keyboard is becoming more of a regular thing than I’d like. But as my group of friends and myself get older, more and more of us are leaving this world.
Writing about any of them passing has never been easy.
This time around, though, is more difficult than most.
Early this morning I heard the news of the passing on Wednesday of Sean Brickell. He was 69 and leaves behind his dedicated wife of 32 years, Robin, and three grown children.
If you have lived in Hampton Roads for more than a few years, you probably have heard of him.
Myself, and countless others, had the more-than-distinct pleasure of knowing him for a lifetime and calling him a very, very dear friend.
He was one of several kind hearts who took a scared-to-death 18-year-old under their wings when I started at the newspaper in 1976.
Sean was a music critic back then and he knew his stuff. Thanks to he and Eric Feber – another music critic at the paper – I enjoyed more free concerts and backstage parties than I can dare to remember.
While those are great memories, it was Sean’s undying support for me and what I did at the paper that I will remember the most. When I left sports after 40 years for a 3-year run in news, he asked me about the fishing forecast and whether or not it would continue. When I told him I didn’t know, he personally called the editor and gave him just the right amount of lip service on how important the column was to the community.
I was called into the office the next day and told that I would continue to do something I loved.
Finding that kind of support is rare in the journalism world, an industry where most phone calls and e-mails are negative at best.
But I wasn’t the only person who enjoyed Sean’s support. Not by a far cry. He was one of those guys who had your back. One look at social media comments since his death proves that and then some.
The music scene, the auto show, she crab soup contest and countless other local events have been successful because of Sean’s hard work and support. The Princess Anne High School and ODU graduate had a true love of this community.
As Bobby Melatti – who in 1999 helped Sean start the Virginia Legends Walk honoring musicians – told The Pilot’s Stacy Parker: “I can’t imagine Virginia Beach without a Sean Brickell in it.”
Even though he is no longer with us, Sean has left his mark on the region like few others.
He will be as sorely missed as he was greatly appreciated.
Note: I’m still waiting on a picture of Sean to post with this tribute.