CT Journalism Hall of Fame: Richard Peck

Back in the day, when cigar smoke hung thick in the newsroom and the clatter of typewriters and wire machines ricocheted off the linoleum and concrete of the walls, and reporters were, on occasion, actually admired, Richard Peck was in full bloom.

It was the 1970’s, the time of Watergate, and reporters everywhere had perhaps a little extra swagger in their step. This was in part thanks to the recognition going not only to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as individuals, but also to the value of the work, the profession, the role of the press as watchdog.

If a reporter ever took that role seriously, it was Richard Peck, first in his long-running posting as Bridgeport Post-Telegram bureau chief in Stratford, and in subsequent stints as city editor and columnist.

Richard gathered news the old-fashioned way – not by phone, by Blackberry, by press release, by Google – but by foot, step by step, through the gin mills, diners, Rotary luncheons, town and city halls, through places high and low – in other words, wherever real people gathered to tell their stories. Congenitally suspicious, relentlessly questioning, he was a skeptic in the best sense of that word.

But no nagging scold was Richard Peck. A gifted story-teller, his tales were punctuated with ready flashes of his trademark gap-toothed grin.

A Renaissance man. At least if you let Damon Runyon have his two cents on what that means: Richard was not only a raconteur and legendary epicure, he was a sporting man and handicapper extraordinaire. Many men have their shrines: Richard’s was Saratoga. He wrote with equal dexterity – and insight, by the way – about fillies and felons.

Finally, he was a teacher, sharing his passion and his knowledge with countless young journalists who came under his gaze, wherever he may have encountered them. In places high and low. His most effective was of sharing was by his example.

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