The following is an editorial that appears in the June 11, 2014 edition of the Star Valley Independent.
Most of the time the newspaper business is a fun job. Often hectic, but there is satisfaction wound together with accomplishment more often than not.
This week it has been downright unpleasant. News has a lot of gray area which is up to the reader to determine for themselves. But then there is also good news and bad news. This week was full of bad news.
I was going about my normal routine when a co-worker pointed out that one of the police officers killed in Las Vegas over the weekend had Star Valley ties. I had glossed over the initial reading and had been interrupted with something else, so I failed to come back to it. She pointed out that Alyn Beck, husband of Nicole Hastings, had been killed by two despicable people.
The three syllables of his name finally hit me like a truck as my memories finally caught up to reality. Alyn was a friend of mine my first year as I attended the University of Wyoming. He was handsome, kind and happy. He was one of the first guys to help someone move or change a flat tire. He was a handful of years older than my group; a great template for the rest of us. In other words, he had his stuff together.
One day, he approached me and a good friend of mine, Michael Stauffer of Star Valley, to play a trumpet duet in the middle of a large class on the UW campus. A bit of a glamorous entrance for a man who had found the woman he wanted to spend eternity with. He was going to propose to Nicole Hastings, a friend I had graduated with in 1995 at SVHS.
I was a little nervous as the lesser of the two players, but we let it rip. Alyn proposed to Nicole that day in front of almost a hundred other students before marrying her later on that year. She was one of the first to find a great spouse out of the Class of ‘95. It was a fun memory, and to date the only time I’ve been asked to break out a trumpet for somebody.
As the years passed, I occasionally saw them. The ten year reunion and the family weekends in Star Valley. He was still a great role model. A law enforcement officer in Las Vegas. I remember making the statement to him, “Wow, I’ll bet you’ve seen a few things.”
He smiled and nodded. But service was engrained in his DNA. I again found myself looking up to him and thinking I should be doing better.
Then the news of this week came that he was shot and killed without provocation by two cowards. The experience has been sobering.
But examination of these incidents should be made. There is the nuts and bolts of news. The information, those involved, those affected and the consequences. But almost invariably there is the glorification of the perpetrators. Sometimes it’s grandiose. Other times it’s the subtle uses of words like “spree” or “rampage” or “ambush”.
Those who would plan and act upon such evil feelings, need no such introduction. Families are left without fathers and brothers and husbands this week. There is nothing glorious about that.
Instead I will focus on the good Alyn Beck brought into the world. The kind gestures and the quick smile that spoke volumes. I’ll remember that for a confused kid just out of high school with problems of his own, Alyn set the standard pretty high and he still does.