Anyone who has called the Herald Democrat newsroom recently may have noticed the friendly voice that has answered our calls for the last few years was missing.


Our friend Mark Beardsley died last week after an incredible life. We were all very fortunate to get to know Mark over the last few years, which he spent as our news clerk.


He had a demeanor about him that you couldn’t help but love, and he was the kind of person that never met a stranger. It often seemed like everyone through our doors stopped to say “hello” to him, and many that didn’t got to know him through his work with the submitted church news for our Faith pages and taking the birthdays that regularly appear at the end of our Good Morning columns.


Mark didn’t have the formal journalism training that everyone else in the newsroom has, but it quickly became evident that he had the soul of a writer, and I loved when he took the time to contribute a Good Morning column to the paper. Our newsroom is fairly young and he gravitated toward providing context on big life events that most of the rest of us just don’t have.


He also would meticulously craft his columns down to every participle choice — to the point where I almost felt guilty changing anything during my editing duties.


Mark spent years as a teacher, and he displayed the care and compassion educators are known for in the heartfelt odes he wrote in honor of graduation season. Those columns — which really should be required reading for anyone donning a cap and gown — were wise, engaging and inspiring — just like Mark.


Before this, we hadn’t lost anyone permanently from our extended newspaper family in quite a while. Friends have come and gone, but they’re all still out there in the world and we’re all the better for the time we got to spend together. That’s especially true of Mark, who always seemed to enjoy being a part of our team as much as we loved having him around. It’s hard to believe he’s not around anymore, but his memory will live on for a long time.