The Eagle-Tribune lost one of its own this week. After almost 40 years as an employee and manager with our company, Dana Scholtz passed away early Monday.

Dana was a quiet and unassuming guy. He went about his work with an ever-serious overtone. You always knew you were in the presence of a guy who meant business. Dana's business was to take tremendous pride in our buildings, both in appearance and mechanical function. He wanted his fellow employees to work in an atmosphere that was clean, safe and comfortable. And he succeeded at accomplishing this day in and day out.

Dana succumbed to that terrible demon, cancer. He fought very hard and almost won once. But as it has done so often to many great people in our lives, it came back stubbornly. This strong, quiet man, who enjoyed his privacy, loved the outdoors and appreciated small gestures of friendship fought so hard to beat the demon. The demon won early Monday morning. With his wife and best friend, Anne, by his side, Dana died at the Merrimack Valley Hospice House in Haverhill.

The flag in front of The Eagle-Tribune flies at half-staff in honor of Dana.

This is the same flagpole where Dana lowered the flag to half-staff on many occasions. The occasion remembered clearly by Dana's co-worker and friend, Jay Timmons, was Sept. 11, 2001.

When Dana learned of the terrorist attacks that day, he immediately asked the Rogers family if he could lower the flag. The former owners of the newspaper agreed, and Dana went about the task he had performed many times before and lowered the flag.

It seems only fitting that the flag is lowered for Dana.

The blades of grass beneath the flag seem to be standing taller and greener since Jay lowered the flag on Monday. If you have passed by our building at 100 Turnpike St. in North Andover, you have seen the finest example of Dana's work. He loved that front lawn and was very proud of it.

When I first came to the Eagle-Tribune, I decided to test Dana's sense of humor. I told him how I admired the beauty of the lawn and suggested that I might take a 9-iron out there and practice my awful game of golf. I also suggested it would be a great location for softball games. I quickly learned that this joking was not going to fly with Dana. He turned several shades of red in response to my not-so-humorous suggestions. He also learned quickly what life would be like working with me. I never let up on ways to use our lawn.

Dana and I worked well together. I appreciated his vast knowledge of our buildings and our company's history. Dana was the overseer of six expansions to the Eagle-Tribune building, the most recent being our insert storage area. He also knew the electrical schematics of our press, having installed much of it himself. Dana knew the inner workings of his building like a rocket engineer knows his spaceship. I knew I never had to worry about the right thing being done to sustain our vast physical operation. Dana and his team always had us covered.

Dana's father introduced him to the fabulous world of newspapers. His dad, Curtis Scholtz, worked on the second shift maintenance staff at The Eagle-Tribune. Both Dana and Curtis worked hard for the Rogers family and the many employees who have made this newspaper flourish. In a sense, Dana carried on his dad's legacy of caring for 100 Turnpike Street under its present ownership.

Dana represented something that we see less and less today. He was a man who spent almost his entire working life with one company. He remained devoted to that company to the very end. In return, that company remains devoted to Dana and his wife, Anne, who works in the accounting department. They met at work. They are a part of our family and we are a part of their family.

Our family mourns the loss of our friend and co-worker. We would like to thank the great folks at the Merrimack Valley Hospice, who gave Dana a wonderful quality of life these past couple of months. People so often view hospice as a service you call at the very end of life. Not true.

Taken right off the Merrimack Valley Hospice website: "Hospice is a type of compassionate care for patients whose illness is no longer responding to treatment and there is no hope for a cure." Once Dana and Anne decided it was time to enjoy the last part of their life together, hospice provided them help, support and counsel.

This morning, as I turned into our parking lot, that beautiful park-like setting on our front lawn reminded me once again that life is short. We have a chance to do good work while we are alive. Sometimes our work is not obvious and noticed. Then there is the work of Dana C. Scholtz. We will work hard to maintain his legacy.

Al Getler is the publisher of The Eagle-Tribune.

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