Thanks, Van Hecke, for believing in me

Long-time Observer business journalist M.S. Van Hecke.
Long-time Observer business journalist M.S. Van Hecke.

M.S. Van Hecke was on "my" side.

As a teenager I read the legendary Observer business editor's columns daily and was envious of his front row seat to Charlotte's growth. I thought he had the most exciting job in the world.

His wife Faye was also a journalist by training. She combined her love of the craft by teaching journalism at Olympic High School. (She also taught reading to those high school students who still couldn't during other periods of the school day because she wanted everybody to read.)

At Olympic we produced a real newspaper and would often meet at the Van Heckes' house to design the paper's layout by spreading it on the floor of their den. As the senior student editor, I had my opinions of how each edition should look. Faye Van Hecke had hers. Mr. Van Hecke, the "expert" in the house, would often be called in to settle our differences. She would get up from off the floor and brush herself off and very clearly and forcefully, loudly even, argue to him about why her idea was better.

With a twinkle in his eye, he would side with me. I never really knew if my ideas were really the best, or if it was his way of simply encouraging a young budding journalist. Faye passed away several years ago and I thanked "Van" for being on my side. On that day he was obviously much older and moved slower and had to sit down. But that twinkle returned to his eye and he gave me a familiar sly smile as we recalled those "discussions" on his floor.

Thanks for the encouragement Mr. Van Hecke.

Swicegood is an NBC Network News producer.