Lacitis (who apparently knew Nick from their joint participation in regular media basketball games years ago) called me yesterday for some comments, but what I have to say here is far from the most compelling part of his Times article. More interesting are the things he heard from Nick’s wife, Laurie Brown, about their life together before he graduated from the University of Oregon journalism school in 1977:
... [I]n the early 1970s, Mr. Gallo and his wife were hippies, she said.That sounds just like Nick, always readying himself for the tasks ahead. He was a thoughtful, prepared writer who never acted as if he knew everything (unlike some other Seattle media folk of my acquaintance). The anecdote with which Lacitis begins his story, telling about how Nick called his editor at Alaska Airlines Magazine from his hospital room in Athens, Greece, on the day before he died, just to let him know that he’d be down for a while, and therefore unable to address any changes the editor thought necessary on an article he’d recently submitted, simply confirms Nick’s precision. In my experience with him over the years, acting as his editor on different assignments, Nick was never anything less than professional, with the highest standards for his work.
Brown said the couple worked from June until October in Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington, picking fruit. On good days, she said, they earned $100 together.
They lived on their savings the rest of the year, with Mr. Gallo writing poetry and Brown doing art projects.
But even as a hippie, she said, Mr. Gallo showed his fastidiousness, going to orchards the night before and scoping out which trees would yield the most fruit and what height ladders the couple would need.
Also interesting from Lacitis’ piece are the circumstances of Nick’s demise. According to Laurie, he “was diagnosed with pericarditis--a swelling of the membrane around the heart--and pneumonia.” She adds that Nick “had been in good health, although he had rheumatic fever as a child, which can affect the heart. Brown said autopsy results are expected in 10 days.”
All of this only reminds us again how surface appearances can be deceptive. I would have thought that Nick, who I’m quite sure was in better shape than I, would one day be attending my memorial service, rather than the other way around.