McCarthy#8217;s #8216;friendly#8217; calls, views will be greatly missed

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 12, 2006

The ring, ring, ringing of my phone in The Ironton Tribune always sounded just the same, never giving even the smallest hint of who the caller was on the other end.

As soon as I would pick up the receiver, I could tell who was calling with just two simple words.

“Mike, Dick,” would be the gruff-sounding response, telling me quickly that Dick McCarthy, a North Ironton resident with a passion for the city he called home, had a few things to get off his chest.

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McCarthy passed away Wednesday but his legacy will live on through all those he touched in his long life. I will always remember those conversations we had about all that was right and wrong in the community, each time walking away feeling a little more knowledgeable about a community that I was still learning to call home.

Those who don’t know the 71-year-old by name likely read his opinions and views in our Letters to the Editor section. McCarthy was confined to a wheelchair with only limited use of one arm because of a medical mishap but that did nothing to stifle his quick wit and sharp tongue.

McCarthy was fearless when it came to expressing his views about politics, the community and the newspaper.

Even those who were sometimes on the receiving end of McCarthy’s written wrath, like myself, have to respect him for standing up for his beliefs and being brave enough to put his name to it, no matter how angry he knew it would make others in this close-knit community.

For a while, I think Dick was somewhat skeptical of me as a journalist since I was young and had not grown up here.

I would like to think that I won him over one article at a time by being fair and balanced.

But, the turning point may have actually come from a house call I made one day.

The phone conversation began just like it always did, just like I described. “Mike. Dick.”

Then Dick let me have it! He was furious that I had not printed some letter or the other.

I pleaded innocence and reassured him that I did not receive any letter to him via e-mail. We worked on it for a few minutes and couldn’t isolate the problem but I was sure it had something to do with the way the address was being typed or the computer setup.

Dick, on the other hand, was still skeptical, still not quite convinced that I wasn’t trying to keep him quiet.

Finally, I knew what had to be done, and though it was somewhat unusual, I would do it again.

I jumped in the car and cruised over the viaduct to his neatly kept home near Green Valley. His wife, Carol, seemed somewhat embarrassed when I explained who I was but was kind enough to let me in.

It didn’t take long and we had his e-mail setup so that he could let his voice be heard once again.

After thanking me, Dick looked at me, with a chuckle and a sparkle in his eye, and motioned for me to come closer.

“Don’t think this means I’m going to take it easy on you,” he said wryly.

And, true to his word, he didn’t — but that is just one reason why Dick will be missed by myself, our readers and all his loved ones.

Don’t worry, Dick. We’ll keep an eye on things for you until we are able to hear from you again.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@