(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) — Veteran journalist Rob Hiaasen, one of five employees gunned down at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland on Thursday, was remembered at a “Celebration of Life” memorial Monday night.
Hiaasen, 59, joined the Capital Gazette in Annapolis as an assistant editor in 2010. He was previously a features writer at The Baltimore Sun.
Hiaasen, nicknamed “Big Rob,” was a father of three and had been married for 33 years to his wife Maria. His wife’s birthday was the day of the shooting, according to the Sun Sentinel.
The event in Owings Mills, Maryland, was “summer casual” because “Rob would never want you to put on a suit for him,” according to the Evite.
His family of siblings and children delivered moving speeches offering intimate moments and special times with him. Each reflected on journal entries that Hiaasen penned to them.
His daughter, Samantha, called her dad “my hero” and said that he remains “my strength and he is the purest form of happiness I know.”
She remembered her dad’s wry wit but also his heart.
“He genuinely hated seeing the people he loved hurting,” she said.
His son Ben broke into tears speaking about how his dad was “destined to be a father… he was such a fantastic role model for me and he loved us all so much.”
The emotional speech ended with Ben promising to not let their dad’s name fade away.
“We’ll continue to honor dad the rest of our lives,” he said.
Maria spoke about how her husband was her “best friend” and that on Father’s Day she gave him a card that she signed, “Luckiest woman in the world.”
She said that raising their kids together was significant for both of them.
“That parenting thing with that man — that was the changing force in my life,” she said.
“There was no finer human being,” his wife told the Sentinel earlier. “And certainly no finer father. And he was a damn fine journalist, too.”
Rob Hiaasen was also the brother of famous author Carl Hiaasen.
He ran off some off-the-cuff vignettes about his brother’s affinity for James Taylor albums and how he wished he could have worked with him.
“I never had the honorable privilege of working with him in the newsroom,” Carl Hiaasen said during the memorial.
The author added that he reduced his written thoughts about his late brother to one word.
“Grace,” he said. “My brother was a person of phenomenal grace.”
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