Lynn DeBruin was a dedicated and knowledgeable sports reporter. Although she worked for the Associated Press, her byline appeared on numerous stories in the Standard-Examiner as we relied on her quality coverage of BYU and University of Utah athletics, as well as Olympic sports.
She was also an outstanding athlete. She was a scratch golfer, talented tennis player and softball player, and a former college soccer player.
She was also a friend.
Lynn died a week ago after a courageous fight with breast cancer. She was only 51.
My wife and I sat with her in her Salt Lake City apartment a few days before she made her final trip to Denver for treatment. We all cried together as we talked about past shared experiences, while she laid on the couch, her body bloated from the fluid buildup due to her failing liver and kidneys.
My wife and I sensed that we would never see her again.
I first met Lynn in 1985 literally around the water cooler at the Casa Grande Dispatch, a small daily newspaper in Arizona. She was a newly hired combination sports and criminal court reporter (I said it was a small newspaper) and I was a new city editor.
She was talking to someone about how her then-husband, a local teacher and coach, was trying to put together a competitive men's volleyball team, but was having trouble finding players. I interjected that I played volleyball.
She looked at me suspiciously, and said "Okayyyyyy, I'll let my husband know."
I ended up playing on a number of city league basketball, volleyball, softball and flag football teams with Bruce DeBruin. We even celebrated a few championships. He joked later about how Lynn had initially asked him to give me a tryout, saying it might help her out on the job.
But the real relationship was the one that developed between us two newlywed couples. We shared many common experiences, including the same alma mater (the University of Arizona). We went to sporting events and on double dates together. We enjoyed camping, hiking and a lot of outdoor activities as a foursome. Lynn and I were able to keep our professional and personal relationships separate and free of conflict.
However, as is the case with young couple friendships, things change with time.
Lynn and Bruce divorced, and Lynn moved to Denver where she took a job with the Rocky Mountain News. My wife and I also moved on to a new life here in Utah.
Needless to say, we lost touch with Lynn.
While both of us followed each other's careers from afar, we never really talked with one another.
Then in 2010 Lynn took a job with the AP in Salt Lake after the Rocky Mountain News folded and our friendship was renewed.
I didn't know Lynn was in remission from cancer until she moved to Utah. Even though she was a public figure because of her work, she was still a very private person. She was an attractive woman working in a male-dominated field. She always had her guard up.
According to the AP, Lynn's professional career included coverage of the World Series, six Super Bowls and golf's majors. She spent 10 years as an NFL beat writer, first in Arizona then with the Broncos for John Elway's final Super Bowl.
Lynn's sports reporting career in Utah lasted only a couple of years, so she didn't gain much recognition here. Where she made her mark was in Denver. Here's what some of her contemporaries said about her in the Denver Post this week:
"Lynn truly was an exceptional journalist, a tough competitor in the Broncos' locker room and the press box and on the golf course; and a real friend and a gentle woman," Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said. "She missed the newspaper war in Denver, and the newspaper business in Denver sincerely misses her."
"The Broncos were ground zero during the newspaper war, and the competition was intense," said Patrick Saunders, who covered the Broncos for The Denver Post from 1998-2004 and currently covers the Rockies. "But Lynn and I became good friends."
"Lynn was a person of courage and determination who never let her health challenges stand in her way. She was a terrific reporter and a human being with deep compassion," said John Temple, former editor, publisher and president of the Rocky Mountain News. "This is a very sad day."
"Lynn was a fighter. It's what I admired most about her," said Barry Forbis, former Rocky Mountain News sports editor. "It was heartbreaking to learn this morning that she had lost her fight with cancer. Lynn was a special person, and we'll miss her greatly."
Lynn grew up in Pennsylvania and was a big Eagles fan. It would be a fitting tribute to her if her beloved hometown team made it to the Super Bowl this year.
I'll be pulling for them.
Andy Howell is executive editor. He can be reached at 801-625-4210 or email@example.com.