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RIP Chris Ewell

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by OwlWithVowel, May 12, 2008.

  1. OwlWithVowel

    OwlWithVowel Member

    Don't know how many of you knew Chris, who was a great guy.

    Christian Ewell
    [Age 33] Reporter covered news, sports in 10 years at The Sun.

    By Chris Emery
    Sun reporter

    Christian Ewell, a reporter for The Sun who had written about sports since his college days, died of brain cancer Saturday at a hospice in Kansas City, Mo. He was 33.

    Mr. Ewell joined The Sun in 1997, working as a sportswriter and news reporter in Baltimore and in Howard County. His sports assignments took him to the Super Bowl in 2001, when the Ravens beat the New York Giants, and to the men's college basketball Final Four in 2001 and in 2002, when the University of Maryland defeated Indiana in Atlanta for the national championship.

    "He had a great attitude, and even when he was ill he still came to work every day," said Timothy Wheatley, assistant managing editor for sports at The Sun. "He reported on many big events but also was willing to do whatever was needed to help, no matter how big or small the assignment."

    As the University of Maryland football beat reporter for several years, he covered the 2002 Orange Bowl and the 2003 Peach Bowl.

    Born and raised in Topeka, Kan., Mr. Ewell was a precocious reader and sports fan as a child.

    "We would always fight over the sports page," said his older brother Brian Ewell, who lives in the suburbs of Chicago. "That was always the point of contention. He always remembered the names and numbers of the athletes, the teams, whatever the year. He had a knack for it."

    Mr. Ewell earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Southern California, where he became sports editor of the Daily Trojan.

    He was chosen as a Chips Quinn scholar in a prestigious national program for young minority journalists. That led to work as a general assignment and sports reporter at the Philadelphia Daily News. He also held internships at the Topeka Capital-Journal, ESPN2 in Los Angeles and the Knight-Ridder bureau in Washington. He studied at Howard University during his junior year.

    His friends and family said Mr. Ewell's interests were broad and notably included music, reading and food.

    "He was sort of a Renaissance man," said Liz F. Kay, a colleague at The Sun. "He was incredibly well-read."

    Sean Kearns, a friend he met at USC, said Mr. Ewell often hunted for new restaurants. "He would send e-mails to me asking me if I'd tried a restaurant," said Mr. Kearns, who lives in New York. "There is a little Vietnamese stand in New York he found. Any time he would come to New York to visit, he was showing you new things, and you're like, 'Don't I live here?'"

    Mr. Ewell was active in the Baltimore-Washington Newspaper Guild and tutored children for Reading by 9, a childhood literacy program. He also enjoyed running and worked out regularly with the Pacemakers, a Baltimore running group.

    "I remember trying to follow Chris all over Druid Hill Park, and he really left me behind," said Robert Hilson Jr., a member of the Pacemakers. "He was a good guy and a good runner."

    Mr. Ewell continued to run after he fell ill. When his condition prevented him from driving a car, he rode his bike to meet with fellow runners.

    "That's not easy to do, to ride your bike and then run," Mr. Hilson said. "He wanted to do it because we were all his friends."

    Mr. Ewell, who had lived in Baltimore for a decade, took a leave from the newspaper last summer and moved to his mother's home in Kansas City after his illness became more severe.

    A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, 4230 S.W. Gage Blvd. in Topeka.

    He is survived by his mother, Delores Ewell of Kansas City; his father, Billy Ray Ewell of Naperville, Ill.; and another brother, Henri Ewell of Kansas City.
  2. cougargirl

    cougargirl Active Member

    Oh, man, this is awful. How sad. RIP, Chris. Our thoughts are with your family.
  3. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Jeez. Just awful. RIP.
  4. Chris was a class act and very helpful to me when I needed a particular question answered my senior year of college. He will definitely be missed.
  5. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member


    My prayers to his family...
  6. trifectarich

    trifectarich Well-Known Member

    I did not know Chris. But 33? Your life is just beginning.

  7. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    Damn that's sad. RIP.
  8. FreddiePatek

    FreddiePatek Active Member

    Wow, knew the family well growing up in Topeka (went to school with Brian). This is the first I've heard of Chris' woes. Damn, I remember the fella. Brian, if you ever wander past this board, my prayers are with you and the family.

  9. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    Damn. Thirty-three?


    RIP, Chris, and my best to his family and friends.
  10. KVV

    KVV Member

    I wanted to start this thread a few times, but it was too hard. A part of me felt like if I didn't write it, Chris wouldn't really be gone. A year ago -- a freaking year ago -- Chris and Brent Jones and I pooled some money, bought some chicken wings and pizza, and watched Floyd Meriweather pick apart Oscar de la Hoya from Chris' apartment in Baltimore.

    And now he's gone. Few things in my life have ever seemed quite so unfair.

    Chris was as fine a man as I've known. There are so many people who feel lucky to have called him a friend, and my wife and I are among them. A stubborn USC fan to the core, he would have rolled his eyes at all the nonsense that went on with O.J. Mayo this week. And then he would have laughed it off, then made a crack about the SEC. He had such an awesome laugh. I can't tell you how much joy so many of us at the Sun derived from listening to Chris laugh. On the nights when all the under-40 crowd at the Sun would gather at someone's house for drinks, you could catch Chris' eye from across the room (because he was so tall) and he'd raise his drink and bust out a big wide grin and a nod that would instantly make you feel better about the world.

    Brent Jones and I used to joke that we could never find a decent restaurant in Baltimore without Chris' assistance. He had an internal GPS that seemed to be connected to his refined palate, and he was always leading us to fabulous bistros or restaurants that were as hidden as Smurf Village.

    I remember once -- when we were both just kids and still idealistic and finicky about our copy -- that Chris got sent to cover a Georgetown-Syracuse basketball game in D.C., and the desk didn't care for his lede and decided to rewrite it, over his objections.

    "Were you upset?" I asked him.

    "Initially," he said. "But after I packed up my computer, I found a bar, and midway through my second drink it suddenly didn't bother me that much."

    Chris was one of the most worldly, well-read people I've ever met. He was always shooting me messages, asking what I thought of this novel, or that biography, and he'd leave David Sedaris or John Edgar Wideman books on my desk he thought I'd like. I think he'd seen every critically acclaimed art-house film ever released and could talk about them with as much, if not more, expertise than he could talk about sports. The man knew music too. All kinds. I still have one of his J-Live CDs that he leant me because he wanted to expose me to some real hip hop, and not the commercial nonsense that I found so syrupy. He and Jones and I spent a lot of evenings, and dollars, in Baltimore bars dreaming of the journalists we hoped we might someday become.

    At the same time, Chris was active in our Guild, and didn't give a hoot as to what that might mean for his career. His principals and loyalty to others came first. When he moved into a features position and I took over for him on the Maryland football beat, he held my hand for a few weeks and introduced me to all the right people. He knew I was nervous, but never said a word, other than "How can I help?"

    About six years ago, I confessed to Chris that I had a crush on another reporter at the Sun, and that it was killing me she was practically engaged to another reporter at the paper. Then one winter Sunday when Jones, Ewell and I were helping our friend Phill move out of his D.C. apartment, Chris informed me that my crush and her boyfriend had recently split.

    "Well KVV," he said, "looks like you'll get your chance after all."

    I ended up marrying that girl. At my wedding reception three years ago, I pulled Chris aside and reminded him of that day.

    "Hey," he said, huge grin spreading across his face. "Just doing my part."

    Every couple months, often at the behest of Heather Dinich and Lem Satterfield, a bunch of us Sun folk would make the trek down to Annapolis and spend the evening warbling through round after round of karaoke. Dinich would bust our her best Salt 'n Pepper, and we'd all join in for the chorus and shout "It's none of yo business!" and I'd do some ridiculous hard rock version of Kelly Clarkson's "Since You Been Gone." Lem would sing whatever Nickleback song his kids had recently taught him. But one evening I'll always remember is the time that Chris, without mentioning it to anyone, slipped behind the mike and broke into this beautiful, sad version of Bill Withers "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone." I don't even think anyone of us knew Chris could sing, but damn if we all weren't transfixed, along with the whole bar, while Chris sang in a smooth, sad baritone.

    Chris' health deteriorated quicker than any of us could really comprehend. He didn't like to talk about it much. Jones and Chris' good friend Liz Kay, also a reporter at the Sun, went to visit him a couple times in Kansas City, told him how much he'd meant to us all, and I know it meant the world to him. They were generous, loyal, noble and kind to Chris during his final months in ways I only wish I'd had the courage to be. During his final visit to Baltimore this fall, we all had drinks at the Tusk Lounge and at the end of the night I hugged him and lied when I told him that I knew, deep down, it was all going to be alright. That he'd be back in Baltimore soon, and we'd be discussing episodes of The Wire before he knew it. I think he knew I was lying, but he understood, and we both cried a little and then laughed a lot.

    So Rest is Peace, Chris. Thank you for being a such a kind and genuine friend to so many of us.

    If you knew Chris, and want to share a story or a drink in his honor, you can join us at the Owl Bar tonight.

    Kevin Van Valkenburg
  11. 2muchcoffeeman

    2muchcoffeeman Active Member

    I didn't have the honor of knowing Chris Ewell. After reading KVV's post, I wish I had.

    RIP, Mr. Ewell. Anything you think you might have left undone will work out in the end, and you're in a better place and no longer suffering.
  12. Stone Cane

    Stone Cane Member

    KVV - beautifully done

    thanks for sharing your thoughts and memories

    RIP, Chris
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