View From the Press Box: Dion Clisso 9/28

Dion Clisso

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: September 29, 2014 - 9:55 AM

If you grew up playing or reading about high school sports in Eastern Jackson County, you know who Dick Puhr is. For those who don't, he is the longtime sportswriter at The Examiner newspaper.

When I say longtime, I don't mean 20, 30 or even 40 years. I'm talking about 50 plus years. Puhr started at The Examiner in November of 1959, and even though he "retired" from full-time work a few years back, he continued as a regular contributor until about a week ago.

Puhr had a stroke and is now in the process of recovery. Even though he suffered this event, he was still able to make his Pigskin Picks last week and continue his participation in that weekly feature that goes back to the 1980s.

If you are lucky enough to have a job you love, you probably also have two or three people who made an impact on your career. I've had several and Puhr is one of them. I started writing at The Examiner in December of 1991 in what was essentially a paid internship at the time. Puhr was the veteran member of a staff that had many talented people.

Over the next decade I worked part-time at The Examiner as I worked in other fields. Puhr was a constant at the paper and tried to help me when he could. One night I was trying to make it back from a football game in Carrollton during the fall of 1993. That was the year of the big flood and Carrollton was basically an island; I was running way behind on my attempt to get back to Independence and file my story. To top it all off, I got stopped by a train that seemed to go on forever and I was forced to write my story by hand. I then called Puhr from a pay phone and dictated my story like it was some movie from the 1930s.

In 2002 I joined The Examiner as a full-time writer and Assistant Sports Editor. Puhr was going strong working in his fifth decade at the paper and I was able see him every day. What I learned was that to be a good journalist, you had to grind every day. There are all kinds of big games and exciting stories, but what really makes things happen are the small things: keeping track of standings, stats and other details that are needed to make a daily newspaper or a media company like PrepsKC go.

Puhr was in the office every day taking care of those little things: calling coaches for game stories, notes and results; making sure that every game, every night had a result in the paper. This was before email or automated scoring or stat systems so it meant calling every coach, getting the score, the stats and a comment.

As the Assistant Sports Editor I knew Puhr would always have his work done correctly and on time. It also meant that a lot of the small things were done that nobody wanted to do. Keeping up-to-date conference and district standings for 14 or 15 sports was not and is not fun, but Puhr has done that for five decades.

In a time when it seems that nobody wants to do the little jobs, working with Puhr has taught me that doing the little jobs is what makes something great. I was pretty proud of the work we did at The Examiner in my time there, and Puhr was a pillar of that group.

I am proud of the work we have done at PrepsKC in the last four years, and even though Puhr hasn't done any work for us, he is a huge part of the success we have had and I thank him for that.

Here's to wishing him a speedy recovery and good luck on his Pigskin Picks, though he doesn't need any luck, he usually beats us most weeks and years.