David K. Hakins, publisher of Vermont Life magazine, who died of cancer last week at the age of 66, was a consummate communications expert. At whatever work he tried, from being a reporter and sports editor for me at the Herald to operating a travel agency, and then at his latest task, he sought to open vistas of experience for people that they might not otherwise have attained.
Giving information ran in the family. His grandfather, George Kirk, worked at Rutland newspapers for decades. First he was a reporter at the old Rutland Evening News and then at the Herald, where he finally retired from the copy desk. He covered everything from major fires to minor accidents and social events.
David’s work began while he was still at Rutland High School. He was a delegate to Boys’ State, and volunteered to call me nightly with information about that event. It drove his advisers up there up the wall, because he insisted on taking the time to account for every detail of the week’s progress. Boys’ State wasn’t covered as completely before and hasn’t been covered that way since.
As sports editor for me after graduating from high school, David was both relaxed and confident. One feature in those days was a column that gave predictions of the outcome of various high school teams. It appeared under the byline of “Phil O. Sopher.”
That particular fall Brattleboro High had a powerful football team, cleaning up game after game. But as the weekend approached when the team would meet Rutland High, David put in a prediction that Rutland would win by a few points.
As he put it in Phil O. Sopher’s column: “Here’s where the motor drops out of the Brattleboro truck.”
Of course, Brattleboro won that game in handy fashion. About two weeks later UPS delivered a huge package to the Herald. It was not addressed to anyone in particular but just carried the paper’s address. The only other notation on the package was that it had been shipped from Brattleboro.
We opened the package in the Herald lobby — and there, sure enough, was a truck motor. I never found out who sent it, but whoever did must have spent a bundle on the shipping charges, because it was extremely heavy.
David went on to work at the Anchorage Times in Alaska, then to college and various other activities in his professional life, but I was very glad to find that he had returned to work in Vermont. And with his death, Vermont has lost a true supporter, and I have lost a close friend.
Kendall Wild is a retired editor of the Rutland Herald.
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