The five people killed on Thursday’s horrific mass shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, MD have been identified.
The victims are Wendi Winters, a community news reporter and columnist; Rob Hiaasen, an assistant editor of the Capital and a former features writer for the Baltimore Sun; John McNamara, the editor of the Bowie Blade-News and the Crofton-West County Gazette; Gerald Fischman, the editor of the Capital’s editorial page; and Capital Gazette sales assistant Rebecca Smith.
The Baltimore Sun has published obituaries for all five.
From the Sun’s obituary of Smith, who was a recent hire:
Her boss, Capital Gazette advertising director Marty Padden, said she made sure the sales office ran smoothly.
“She was a very thoughtful person,” Padden said. “She was kind and considerate, and willing to help when needed. She seemed to really enjoy to be working in the media business.”
Smith described herself on her Facebook page as an “Endo Warrior” — a survivor of endometriosis — and a “Dog Mom. Softball Fiance. Bonus Mom to the best kid ever.”
Kelli Peleska, who played softball with Smith’s fiance, said she always attended games and traveled to tournaments with the team.
“She was the absolute most beautiful person. The biggest heart and a great loss to this world,” she said Thursday night.
From the Sun’s obituary of Winters:
Winters was a prolific and dependable writer, Flynn said. People in the community came to know her, and pitched her news stories about their lives and accomplishments.
“When we had something that needed to be covered on the weekends, when we only had a few people to call on, you could always call on Wendi,” Flynn said. “She would good-naturedly crank out three or four stories in a weekend.”
Among friends, Winters was known for her detailed Christmas letters. The letters — which she often delivered with a baked treat — would chronicle her previous year in a month-by-month breakdown of her family’s experiences.
“You would be completely updated about every aspect of her life,” Flynn said, and laughed.
This is from a story Winters did earlier this year for a weekly column she wrote called “Home of the Week.” This particular column was about an elderly woman whose late husband built the home she still resides in 50 years ago, and a nonprofit that helped her make some necessary repairs:
The wooden floors he installed were finished with great care and have been lovingly maintained over the decades. The living room is a gracious spot that, on a visit last week, was still handsomely decorated for the holiday season with a plump Christmas tree, a large wreath hung high on the chimney flue and lush arrangements of poinsettias.
Williams was not only a skilled craftsman, he was an adroit photographer and a talented painter and muralist. Nearly every wall in the house is brightened by one of his beautiful, colorful artworks. In the foyer, a mural depicts a tragic scene from the colonial era set on a waterfront as enslaved men and women are unloaded from a schooner and sold.
On display elsewhere in the house, there is a dramatic scene of a boat tearing through the high seas, tender bouquets of spring blooms, snow-covered rural landscapes and portraits. Interspersed with Mr. William’s paintings are numerous framed photos of the Williams family members through the years.
“I love the quietness here,” Williams said. “It’s so peaceful.”
From Fischman’s obituary:
For more than 25 years, Fischman was the conscience and voice of the Annapolis news organization, writing scathing, insightful and always exacting editorials about the community.
He was the guardian against libel, the arbiter of taste and a peculiar and endearing figure in a newsroom full of characters.
“He had ability that, I thought, deserved a higher calling than The Capital,” longtime editor and publisher Tom Marquardt said.
“Gerald was a phenomenally smart man,” former two-term Anne Arundel County Councilman Jamie Benoit said.
“When I sat for my endorsement interviews in 2010, he made it clear to me it was to be earned and by no means was guaranteed,” he said. “He asked tough questions and exposed every weakness in my legislative record. He treated council races like they were presidential races.”
From McNamara’s obituary:
McNamara, who went by “Mac,” was remembered by his colleagues for his flexibility, concise writing and extensive knowledge of regional sports. He had a razor wit that came in bursts like a social media post, one fellow reporter said.
“At a small paper like that, you have to be versatile,” said former Capital Gazette editor Gerry Jackson, who hired him back all those years ago. “He could write. He could edit. He could design pages. He was just a jack of all trades and a fantastic person.”
This is from a story McNamara did back in April, on a man who has been a one-man roadside beautification operation for decades:
For someone like [Harold] Moline, there’s always an excess of flowers. Some were left over after he planted and plotted out what would go in his own yard. Some were left over from plant sales he helped organize for the garden club. Others were gifts from grateful neighbors whose yards he’d helped cultivate.
Part of his motivation for the roadside garden was a tragedy that occurred on that same stretch of road, at about the same time. As Moline tells the story, an aggressive driver (Moline thinks it was a teen) was weaving in and out of the safety cones in place on the southbound side of Route 197 — the widening project wasn’t finished yet. The weaving car plowed into a vehicle carrying a deaf family. Their infant child was killed in the crash.
“I figured since I was going to plant the flowers anyway, I might as well do it to remember that child,” he said.
From Hiaasen’s obituary:
Hiaasen, 59, celebrated his 33rd wedding anniversary last week with Maria Hiaasen, a former journalist who teaches English at Dulaney High School. Thursday was her 58th birthday.
The couple married after a whirlwind courtship five months after their first date. The Timonium man became known as “Big Rob” during the high school years of their children, Ben, 29, an attorney in Towson; Samantha, 27, an assistant manager of the Barnes & Noble at the Inner Harbor; and Hannah, 26, an artist who works at a furnishings store in New York, Maria Hiaasen said.
“He was a tall man, 6-foot-5, but he was a giant not just in stature but in character,” she said. “He was just the best husband.”
“He loves words, he loves humor,” she said. “He loved journalism, he loved helping those young writers at the Gazette.”
“What is good music?” Hiaasen wrote last year in a remembrance of Tom Petty, a fellow Florida native. “Good music is the music you put on when you’re alone or you don’t want to be alone, and either way the music makes you feel something in your day-job guts. And if it ain’t love or heartache or defiance or hope, then it’s close enough.”