Long-gone editor saw life clearly

On Oct. 3, 1985, the editor of the Register grieved at the death from cancer of his friend, Stu Awbrey, who was publisher of the Hutchinson News and took the opportunity to reprint one of Awbrey’s best:
... No man ever was so intensely engaged in his profession as Stu was. Newspapering was his life and he lifted the profession up a notch or two with the superb quality of his own writing and his persistent efforts throughout a long career to raise the standards of newspaper performance.
He was a great newsman. He was an even greater human being. He summed up his philosophy of life in a column he wrote earlier this year. The piece was prompted by a reflection that politics in Washington these days seems to be guided by the phrase, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” The idea didn’t sit well with Stu. He wrote:
“... They are dead wrong.
“We live by the free lunch. Without it, we would never get out of the womb.
“From Matthew: ‘Freely you have received. Freely give.’
“This is the freedom of soul which gives generously to others and seeks nothing in return, be-yond personal fulfillment and a hope that somehow good has been done.
“The free lunch is the woman sitting at the bedside of her terminally ill sister, helping her fight the isolation, helping her embrace the dark.
“It’s the boss dropping by the desk to tell a staff member he did a grand job.
“It’s the youngsters who stop their Jeep on the highway to help a middle-aged woman change a tire.
“It’s the housewife inviting the neighborhood children to rest in the shade awhile with cookies and lemonade.
“It’s the bank teller bringing new snapshots of her children to the office, to share some of her joy with others.
“The free lunch is willingness to serve on the school board, the church vestry or the planning commission; to help with the softball team; to plan a charity bazaar; to sell symphony tickets; to knit for hospitals or drop good clothing by at the Salvation Army or go to a piano recital of a friend’s child.
“It’s a wife baking bread simply because her husband likes homemade bread.
“It’s the husband accompanying his wife to birth classes.
“It’s stopping on the busy sidewalk to see if you can help a pedestrian who tripped and fell to the pavement.
“The free lunch is visiting the home for the elderly, helping at the hu-mane society, comforting a bereaved friend.
“It’s a call from an old friend inviting you to his house simply because you haven’t visited for awhile.
“It’s the gift to Africa, the awarding of a scholarship, the housewarming present to newlyweds.
“It’s sharing a life with a loved one.
“The free lunch lives, despite the efforts of mean-spirited people, people of power, to discourage it.
“This political premise won’t last. It appeals to the worst in us. It goes against our real nature. From the time we first sucked at our mother’s breast, we survived with the help of free lunches. No politician can wipe that out.”