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American Journalism Review
A Piece of Denver Dies  | American Journalism Review
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From AJR,   June 2002

A Piece of Denver Dies   

Columnist chronicled his last days in the Denver Rocky Mountain News

By Jill Rosen
Jill Rosen is AJR's assistant managing editor     


Remembered.

That's what Denver Rocky Mountain News columnist Gene Amole, who passed away May 12, is among his Denver colleagues and fans throughout the city. With his trademark single-word leads, he might have even summed it up that way himself.

Amole, 78, wrote a column for the Rocky since 1977. In a column in October he told readers that he was dying of multisystems failure and then chronicled his last few months in subsequent columns, almost like a diary. Even sick, he was able, for a 17-week stint, to maintain his six-column-a-week routine. On the Monday after he died, the paper ran Amole's final thoughts, words he wanted his readers to see once he was gone.

Before settling at the Rocky Mountain News, Amole worked in Denver television and radio. Themes in his plainspoken columns were his deep love for his city, which he called "My Denver," and his unwillingness to see it change. As Rocky Editor John Temple wrote in a tribute to Amole, "You were the heart of the Rocky. Time passed, people changed, but there you always were with your love of the town and your belief in telling it like it is. We all knew your simple refrain: Write to express, not to impress."

Amole's columns about his last days were straightforward and chatty, like e-mails from a friend. He detailed not merely his frustrating discomfort, but his appreciation for life, his life--things as small as a Krispy Kreme donut, things as significant as his love for his family. As for his work, he wrote in his last column, "I...hope that along the way I have said, written or spoken something of value to those who survive me. Certainly I make no claim of original thought, but perhaps I have taken an existing idea and added some value to it. You are a better judge than I."

Perhaps the verdict can be seen in the waves of e-mails and letters that came in to the Web site the Rocky set up to showcase Amole's final columns and the letters sent to Amole. There were thousands.

And then, last winter the city of Denver changed the name of the street the Rocky office is on to Gene Amole Way. According to the Denver Post, at the time of the street dedication, Denver Mayor Wellington Webb said, "Gene Amole has become an important thread in the fabric of the Denver community...future generations will recognize his legacy."

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