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Column: Much about Brian Korthals will be treasured, missed

WORTHINGTON -- It may seem a little random, but whenever the "Science Friday" program comes on National Public Radio on Friday afternoons, I always think of Brian Korthals.

WORTHINGTON - It may seem a little random, but whenever the “Science Friday” program comes on National Public Radio on Friday afternoons, I always think of Brian Korthals.

Brian, unless he had an immediate assignment upon starting his workday at 1 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays - he also worked pretty much whenever we needed him on Saturdays - frequently made it a point to stop by my office and chat for a few minutes. “Science Friday” was one of the occasional topics - as were any number of subjects he broached that would sometimes surprise me.

I would imagine that most people that were acquainted with Brian even somewhat wouldn’t be surprised to know that he wasn’t shy about sharing an opinion. He could be passionate about a lot of things, and he was informed in a lot of areas. I tried to avoid arguments with him, in part because we both shared a sometimes-volatile nature that could be a potentially combustible combination. I also was aware that he could probably beat me in an animated debate more often than not.

Brian Korthals died last Saturday, and it threw me for an unexpected loop. It’s not as if his death should have been much of a surprise, as he stood up to latter-stage cancer as bravely and for as long as just about anyone out there. Brian simply continued to persevere - no doubt thanks to a mixture of determination and the love of family and friends. And even though Brian was a very private person - I know a lot of people who didn’t see much of him after he left the Globe - I also know there were many, many people who cared about him, and who he cherished as well.

Family was important to Brian; that was another thing we talked about often in my office. He would speak lovingly of his wife and daughters, and in turn listen to my stories about what at first was my new marriage and then my growing (or trying to, anyway) as a father. He forged an endearing bond with my daughter, and loved taking photos of her (and she smiling for his camera). In the meantime, he often made me laugh with both personal tales and jokes.

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Perhaps most evident of all was his unabashed love for photography. Longtime Daily Globe readers can probably recall any number of outstanding Brian Korthals photos published in this newspaper. From the pictures featured in multiple calendars over to the years to shots from any kind of area event imaginable, Brian was there with a camera to capture it, and he brought a high level of knowledge and skill to his craft. He cared greatly about not just getting good images, but also about how they were presented to our readers. Many of those readers, in turn, probably knew Brian as, at the very least, the guy who took awesome pictures for the paper. He was probably our biggest rock star, if you will - he was the one Daily Globe employee who seemed to be everywhere, ready to create beautiful visual memories.

At the dentist’s office I visit, there is one of my favorite Brian shots on display. The Daily Globe sent him up in a helicopter one day to take aerial photos of various sites around Worthington, and the one that always stood out to me for some reason was a shot over Lake Okabena that prominently features the stretch of road commonly referred to as “the grade” and shows much of the community in the background. That picture was used on DVDs promoting Worthington, and it’s also at my dentist’s. Seeing that shot always reminds me of Brian’s talent, and I imagine a little more than that will come to mind the next time I view it.

Employees at the Daily Globe may sometimes come and go, but we often think ourselves as a big extended family. Brian, though he wasn’t working here any more, remained a part of that family until his passing Saturday. In my immediate reflecting on his life, I first wanted to go to Pipestone National Monument and try to see the pipestone mining through Brian’s admiring eyes. I wanted to carefully examine different types of rock, though I didn’t have nearly Brian’s geological knowledge. I envisioned going to Blue Mounds State Park and spying on buffalo. Finally, I imagined simply looking at picture after picture of his work, marveling at what he captured.

Brian captured a lot for the Daily Globe, and for countless others as well. His photos - and him, personally - will be missed by so many. Rest in peace, my colleague, extended family member and friend.

 

To see a photo tribute to Brian Korthals, pick up Thursday's print edition.

Opinion by Ryan McGaughey
Ryan McGaughey arrived in Worthington in April 2001 as sports editor of The Daily Globe, and first joined Forum Communications Co. upon his hiring as a sports reporter at The Dickinson (North Dakota) Press in November 1998. McGaughey became news editor in Worthington in November 2002 and editor in August 2006.
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