MILESTONES & STOPPING OFF POINTS

By NORMAN M. COVERT

The Covert Letter must take this space to announce that today, Friday, Dec. 30, 2011 marks the final day of Harry Covert’s formal employment. After five years on the job, he officially retires from his duty as public information officer for the City of Alexandria (Va.) Sheriff’s Department.

Harry Covert

Harry has been working the long and unpredictable hours of a professional journalist, writer, editor and public relations practitioner since 1957.

It is time for him to take a break from the daily grind. His decision to retire was on-again, off-again, but the timing matched up well and his desk has been emptied this afternoon. The department and many friends and colleagues will give him an official sendoff next week.

Retirement is the only thing I was able to get over on Harry in our sibling rivalry. I retired in 1999. Brother Harry has been advised that the future will just be different and what he makes of it. Take a little time off, I advised, then get back to the charitable projects that still fill so many of his non-duty hours, and don’t forget we both have www.thecovertletter to feed.

It seems not so long ago (1964) that Harry and I sat in the Sports Department of the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press in what might be described as pilot and bombardier fashion. Being the rookie, I had the desk closest to the doorway, he sat just behind. It was a good arrangement that allowed us to pool our resources when the deadline loomed and we needed two more hands on the typewriters.

In addition to major sports assignments, Harry had the professional and amateur golf beat as one of the plum details on the staff. He spent weekends knocking around golf courses in the region. It included his covering the Masters Tournament, one of several events that created a close race to file his story in time to get home for the birth of his sons Harry Edward, Alan Scott and Christopher Ross.

One of several Daily Press column heads for Harry's opinion pieces in either sports or news. This one circa 1968.

Harry was instrumental in my being hired by Daily Press General Manager Robert B. Smith, who packed me off to the Williamsburg Bureau.

Harry was assisted by his Newport News High School Journalism teacher John (Scooter) Huller, who convinced Sports Editor Gene Markham of the The Times-Herald to hire the 17-year-old a matter of days after his graduation. Good fortune and friends put us in the hands of numerous mentors at the Daily Press.

I’ll use the word matriculated to note Harry’s career because he managed to develop his craft with every change in newspapers and publications. Drawing strictly on my memory, Harry’s successful journalistic road saw him serve a stint in the College of William and Mary Sports Information Office; write news and sports for the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot; manage the Hampton (Va.) Bureau of the Daily Press; found, edit and publish The Hampton Monitor;  be city editor of the Petersburg  (Va.) Progress-Index; and accept the challenge of public relations representative and editor of official publications for The Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church ministry in Lynchburg (Va.), including Liberty University.

In addition, he joined the staff of Insight Magazine of The Washington Times and did other public relations and fund raising work with such internationally known figures as The Rev. Larry Jones’ Feed the Children charity and The Rev. Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse.

Harry was ordained himself and established a ministry that continues to obtain medical supplies and equipment for transport to Third World countries. He continues as a director with World Emergency Relief-Emerge Poverty Free out of London, England, and Amsterdam, Holland, and has been instrumental in sending relief to an orphanage and school in the aftermath of the tragic earthquake in Haiti.

Election handout for Lynchburg (Va.) State Senate Seat. Harry lost a close election.

He also has been a sports official, was barely defeated in two elections for seats in the Virginia General Assembly, operated his own bail bonds business and served as a magistrate in Fairfax, Va.

Working to provide news and information regarding activities of Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne’s department has earned Harry the respect of Washington Metropolitan area news media.

The attempt here has not been to give you curriculum vitae of Brother Harry’s distinguished career, rather to mark this milestone in his life.

The late Dwight McSmith of Hampton, a former NASA-Langley Engineer and fount of sage advice, wrote a column for The Hampton Monitor called “Hmmm! Along With Me.” He advised the young entrepreneur:  

“Harry, whatever you do in life, don’t be a one-note player.”

Harry has turned out an etude or two on his typewriter, computer, and smart phone and as we advised at the bottom of developing news stories, with him there is certainly “mortucom.”

Best wishes in your retirement, brother.

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