Cancer, you deviant destruction, you better take leave of Martin Forbes


Photo by Kristen Forbes

Martin and Carolyn Forbes with their grandchildren: Grace Mueller holding Greta Daems, and Ryan Mueller.

Twenty years ago I worked on the copy desk at the Herald and News. The newsroom was filled with an assortment of characters most people would assume were born of hyperbole and prevarication. No one could invent that rogue’s gallery, but only Martin Forbes could tell the stories of personalities, who had passed through the doors, in a manner that would lead to giggles and tears.

It’s amazing that deadlines were routinely met, given the interpersonal dysfunction that seemed intrinsic to a small-town newspaper.

Martin started as a reporter, moved to the city editor slot, and ended his stent there as news editor. He moved on to be managing editor of the Lake Oswego Review, but I’d left the H&N in 2000. I dreaded the thought of being there without Martin.

Many of us are rallying for him now, as he stares down the scourge of esophageal cancer. It seems as obnoxious as any bit player in the history of the newsroom drama — only it’s hit a good man who has made is mark on many lives with his loving nature, cooking finesse, and storytelling.

Since laughter is the best medicine, I encourage him to remember the characters writ large in the pantheon of those not ready for primetime journalism:

  • The copy editor of “the Hebrew persuasion”, who was asked point blank by a co-worker why his people had killed Jesus Christ.
  • A dog named Beau who committed suicide following an unsavory interaction with a reporter.
  • Said reporter’s randy nature and a famous car-based interlude with a stuttering paramour who had to ask for the law enforcement officer’s flashlight to be diverted.
  • The publisher who used the royal “we”, which became confusing in talking about “our” wife.
  • Random calls from a former colleague, who was part of the Herald & News’ Camelot era, asking: “Will you be my Valentine?”
  • Only mentioning his current stay in Folsom when talking about said former colleague, implying being incarcerated but actually employed in a public relations position.
  • The former colleague’s wife making off with the custom pottery centerpieces from Martin’s eldest daughter’s wedding reception.
  • A certain manager who used editorial shears for a pedicure.
  • The historical re-enactor copy editor, who threatened to shoot a 50-caliber gun through an education reporter’s home.
  • Pocket turkeys as a Thanksgiving bonus.
  • A photo department employee who spent hours preparing the submitted photos from the local strip club for weekly advertisements.
  • The photographer who broke into the strip club, but left his truck behind so the police could trace him and learn of his thefts in Wyoming.
  • A photo technician who dreamed of starting a pornographic magazine with the photographer/burglar.
  • Boris the Cat, who was able to successfully defecate in the publisher’s coffee mug.
  • Martin’s reprimand for featuring a sand sculpture of Zeus on page one, causing the entire community to be exposed to a large sand phallus.

Martin, you are loved and beloved. Keep your chin up, and your sense of humor. You’ve seen many of us through dark days; let us help buoy you now.


One thought on “Cancer, you deviant destruction, you better take leave of Martin Forbes

  1. Great Martin stories. I worked with him until 1983 at the H&N. we had so many laughs, so many Halloweens, and so many pranks. We also played leap frog on occasion during volleyball games–much to many people’s chagrin!!!

    You will kick cancer’s butt Martin. I know it, you know it, and it is shaking in fear from the strength we all send you!!


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