Sunday, June 28, 2015

Elvis Has Left the Building

My long-time colleague Steve Marcus retired this past week. Here’s what I said about him at his reception, before he left the building...

Steve modestly wanted a small reception for close friends, but we soon realized the conference room we had scheduled was too small.

Like the police chief in the movie “Jaws” (released 40 years ago), we quickly realized, “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”

Why? Because Steve has influenced so many people over the years… He’s been a mentor and trusted colleague to all of us here. This is truly worth celebrating. As EB White once noted: “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer."

Nearly 30 years ago, when I had just started at a corporation called NYNEX, we got word that our largest subsidiary, New York Telephone, had just made a major hire -- an award-winning reporter from the New York Post and one of the members of the Inner Circle, a great journalistic institution whose roster is made up of legendary New York City political and community-interest reporters.

Of course, I only knew Steve by reputation back then – which could be summed up by everyone’s reaction at the time: “Thank God, now we know everything will be OK… we’ve got Steve Marcus working for us.”

And since then, I’ve been honored to work at Steve’s side:

· At New York Telephone, he was our chief on-camera spokesman, because on TV and radio his directness and his concern for customers was so self-evident.

· NYNEX became Bell Atlantic, and Steve was the company’s international spokesperson for a time.

· When Bell Atlantic became Verizon, Steve was the company’s voice during our first labor negotiations and later, as most of you know him, he became the company’s chief editor and voice of sanity.

Over all this time, I’ve never heard a single negative thing said about Steve. This is almost impossible in today’s world – but it speaks to his work ethic and talent and the respect he shows everyone around him.

Steve, we’re going to miss you. You’ve earned our respect. I think the general reaction here today is, “Oh God, will everything be OK without Steve Marcus working for us?”

One final note… Steve would have officially worked for Verizon 30 years next month. But I think it’s especially fitting that he’s leaving before then.

There’s an old journalistic tradition of putting the number 30 at the end of every story that’s filed.

I think it’s symbolic that there’s not a 30 on Steve’s career at Verizon, because, Steve, all your friends here know that this is far from the end of your story.

Cheers to Steve Marcus…

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