The Important Things in Life

We said ‘goodbye’ today to a dear friend in the KIRO newsroom. Bryan Thielke ran the assignment desk, and put up a brave fight against pancreatic cancer. In the end, it was a fight he couldn’t win.

More than 200 people turned out for Bryan’s memorial service in Issaquah, sharing various versions of covering big news stories, stories from his childhood, as well as Bryan’s funny ‘snickering’ laugh. But the messages he delivered to his family — especially to his little granddaughter, brought me to tears. He said she would know him only from photos, but he told her to listen to the stories about him. There was the Jimmy Buffet medley played so beautifully by Jay Johnson on his guitar, from all the times they sailed together and drank (according to Jay) ‘obscene amounts of single-malt scotch.’ There were the photos of Bryan and his family over the years, and of course, the stories.

My story about Bryan is simple. He was one of the most kind people in the newsroom when I walked through those doors, and hardly knew a soul. He took me under his wing, and I took to stopping by his office for a quick 5 minute talk every afternoon, so he could share with me ‘who was who,’ and ‘what was what’ that only a longtime newsroom insider would know. I was able to email him in recent days, and his wife Linda (who was most gracious today during what must be such a difficult time) assured me that she was able to read to Bryan the message I had sent.

It’s times like these that make you stop and realize what’s important. It’s your family and friends, and maybe just as importantly — how you treat them. With respect. With a kind word. Sometimes just sharing a smile. Most of us won’t stop at the end of our lives life and say ‘I wish I had worked more.’ But we will stop and say ‘I wish I would have spent more time with my family and friends.’  Bryan worked in the newsroom through much of his illness because for him, his co-workers were his news family, and they proved that today — turning out in force to celebrate his life with the rest of his family.

Rest in peace, Bryan.

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