RIP John Curran

It was a sad weekend in Atlantic City and for anyone who ever worked with John Curran of the Associated Press. John passed away suddenly of a heart attack in Montpelier, VT., where he had worked since 2006, at the age of 54. John worked for more than a decade as the AP's Atlantic City correspondent and left his unique voice, corny jokes and big heart as a lasting legacy. The Atlantic City Press Corps, motley though it was and is, was never quite the same after he left, and John never stopped loving Jersey, returning every summer to Ocean City and following its unmatchable news feed from afar. How fitting that for his final series of stories, John caught the ball from the Jersey coast, at which Hurricane Irene merely spit as she passed, landing with far more serious consequences at John's doorstep. John boarded an ATV driven by a 16-year-old to get to a small town in Vermont that had been cut off by flooding. He brought sandwiches with him to give out. John was a terrific guy, and remembered so fondly by so many people. He had omnivorous tastes, he loved Atlantic City for its boxing, corruption, pop music, crime, casinos, history, Miss America and overall general and unmatchable weirdness. He had a writing touch that was light and tight. He was a tall guy, but he never held himself over anybody. He was generous as a journalist and giving as a person. He loved his job and was always upbeat about it, finding joy and wonder in the beauty of the shore and humor in its people. He brought excellent beer to parties, and lots of it. He was always glad to see you and praised and mentored countless journalists. When I first came down here in 1995, John was truly the dean of the Atlantic City Press Corps, dedicated bunch that we were, forever stunned by the fantastic rainbow of stories, and working with John erased any thoughts of not being at the center of the news universe. John was a fantastic colleague and competitor. I have a distinct memory of returning to my office (when I had an office) after covering the same court hearing as John and struggling to write a coherent story, finally sending one that was too long and convoluted right at deadline. I then found John's version on the web, a tight, clearly distilled masterpiece with a 25 word lede that had been sent an hour before. Humbling. Might as well just run Curran's story. John covered Atlantic City with a sharp wit and gentle spirit, and although it took him some time to adjust to Vermont as a news place, he was soon immersed in its more rolling rhythms and quieter news roar. It was heartening to see how deeply people in Vermont felt about John and his reporting. They were skeptical at first but not for long. John could always get to the heart of the matter and we are so much poorer without his narrative voice. Condolences to John's "beautiful bride" Trish and to his three beautiful children, all of whom he always spoke about and loved dearly. It is a heartbreaking loss. Here's a link to a story out of Vermont. RIP my friend and colleague.