I must admit, even though I have to write about death quite often -- more often than you might think, as a sports writer -- I find myself affected today.
The Monday death of Hartley McLeod, who was 81 and had battled Alzheimer's and dementia, was of course sad news. But he wasn't a player in my time here, wasn't of my era, wasn't someone I knew other than a handshake over a steak at his restaurant.
Rob Guinn, however, was my age -- 32. His daughter, Olivia, is 5 months old, while mine is 16 months old.
That hits home.
His wife, Brooke, writing to me, "I have no doubt in my mind that she and I were his last thought," that shook me.
I have received several e-mails and calls from people shocked by Guinn's death, which came Saturday after a car accident in Iowa, after an elderly man ran a stop sign. There aren't too many players I've come across that I feel completely safe in declaring, "Now that was a good guy."
Guinn was one of them.
I recall him leaving practices wearing scrubs because he was taking nursing classes. They called him Gaylord Focker, a reference to "Meet the Parents," because of it. He took it as a compliment. He had his toughness questioned by readers on this very blog, as incredulous a thing as anything I've read, considering he didn't miss a single game in two seasons here.
I guess it didn't quite settle into my brain Sunday night, as I tried to find out what happened, where it happened, who might know about it. But after things cooled down in the office today, I started remembering some things about Guinn -- how he was always a go-to guy for comment in the locker room because of his maturity, how many appearances he made in the Fort Wayne community, that great play he made to set up Jonathan Goodwin for the Game 7 winner in the 2005 semifinals.
The truest testament to Guinn I can give you comes from the readers, some of whom are former teammates and reporters who covered him. Check out the comments section of the last few posts and you'll see.
Meanwhile, for all those who asked how to get in touch with the family with well-wishes, I will pass them along when I have them, so check back.
-- By Justin A. Cohn, The Journal Gazette