Nebraska has lost a giant in the field of journalism and a friend to many. Ed Howard recently passed away after a long illness but he will not soon be forgotten. He was a respected legend among reporters, editors, and those in the news business because he was great at what he did.
To say that he was a solid reporter is an understatement. He was an artful writer and insightful interrogator with a bite that could unnerve even the most seasoned news maker if he felt they weren't playing straight with him.
Ed was a familiar face around the state capitol for some 40 years, reporting the news and covering every major news story in the state during much of that time. As an Associated Press reporter, chances are that if Nebraskans read about it or saw it on television or heard it on the radio, Ed had written it or played a part in digging out the facts.
He chronicled everything from the 1980s farm crisis to an attorney general resignation, state elections to budget shortfalls to property tax debates, tornadoes to droughts, executions to prison expansions, ethanol development to reorganizing the state health department, terrorist attacks to changes at U.S. Strategic Command and more.
I first met Ed at the Democratic National Convention in 1980 when he wrote a story about my daughter Sarah, who served as a page. I got to know him well a decade later because the governor's office was on his beat. As one of five governors he covered, I can say he was an often tough and always a professional newsman.
He asked questions everyone wanted to know and had a long memory that enabled him to follow up on stories that others had forgotten but had not yet completely played out.
After leaving the Associated Press, Ed would write regularly for Nebraska State Paper.com, an on-line publication followed by politicians and public officials and carried by newspapers in the state.
Ed may have been ill but his fertile mind kept him working right up until the last. On June 6, the day he passed away, his regular column was published in at least one newspaper I read, the Kearney Hub. The article showed that his clarity of thought was still as sharp as ever as he wrote about politics and the importance of federal funds coming to Nebraska.
As always, he was smart, independent and bold. There was no one else like him. Ed Howard was a journalist's journalist, if there ever was one, and he will be missed and remembered for years to come.