Over the weekend, the entire Herald Democrat newsroom and I lost a friend. Mark Beardsley served as the clerk and was a public face and the first voice many people heard when they called the newspaper.


While the news is still setting in with me and several others, the impact that he had and the loss to our team is already being felt.


Mark and I probably had the most polar in personalities. He had the optimism and a humble kindness that I only wish that I could channel and replicate. However, this difference in personality didn’t keep us from becoming quick friends.


In some ways, I think it was those differences that helped forge a friendship.


Every day, he would come into the newsroom with a smile and an enthusiasm that made the days easier for those of us who weren’t blessed with the same spirit. Even I, with my dour demeanor, couldn’t help but feel the warmth that he brought into the newsroom daily.


It was this enthusiasm and warmth that quickly made Mark a key part of our news team despite his lack of formal journalism training. Not ironically, I have heard more than one reporter refer to Mark as the kindest and gentlest person they know. It is high praise, but Mark walked that walk and it showed in not only how we carried himself but also how he treated those around him.


There were times when I would run into Mark while we were having lunch and he would ask about the things in my life — my family, interests, hobbies or even how my weekend went. While this might seem like a passing gesture by some, Mark would always listen and pay attention. Even if it wasn’t one of his interests, he would ask questions and learn with the curiosity of a journalist.


When our editor announced that Mark had resigned from the paper earlier this fall due to his health, a weight hung over the newsroom, and I don’t think it has lifted. I felt that same weight over my own home when I heard the news Saturday. Something special, something genuine had left this world, and the universe will have a hard time replacing that light.