Rick Bonnell remembered for potential to uplift younger journalists, kind friendships

When Rick Bonnell had some thing excellent, his colleagues understood it promptly. Sitting down in

When Rick Bonnell had some thing excellent, his colleagues understood it promptly. Sitting down in front of his laptop, grinning a toothy smile, Bonnell would clasp his arms together and rub them like he was attempting to start off a campfire, his colleagues explained. Each time the longtime sportswriter did that, his colleagues understood the story was going to be good.

“He was in the career he was produced for,” Charlotte Observer sports activities columnist Scott Fowler reported.

Bonnell handed away on June 1 at 63 several years outdated. He was identified at his home, and the induce of death remains unidentified.

Colleagues and good friends don’t forget Bonnell as a listener, a mentor, a supporter, a pal and “someone who would keep in mind the names of your kids,” Fowler stated. Bonnell went to college at Syracuse College, the place he researched journalism and wrote for The Each day Orange.

Immediately after he graduated from the Newhouse College of General public Communications in 1980, Bonnell immediately joined The Syracuse Herald-Journal, where by he coated Syracuse sports right before composing for The Charlotte Observer for the remainder of his 41-calendar year career.


Bonnell landed his very first reporting task as a teen in South Corning, New York, covering higher faculty sporting activities for a newspaper in the neighboring town of Elmira. About 40 many years afterwards, Bonnell had worked for three publications and experienced created above 11,000 bylines. He founded a identify for himself as The Charlotte Observer’s Charlotte Hornets beat author — just one of the number of defeat writers that could phone Michael Jordan and get a response in minutes.

Outside the house of crafting, Bonnell was a devoted good friend and mentor, Fowler claimed.

“He was the 1st person to tell me if he assumed I experienced finished a good task on a little something,” Fowler claimed. “He was just variety of a form man or woman … (who) assumed about other folks a whole lot.”

When Fowler initial commenced working at The Charlotte Observer, he and his family members were seeking for a dwelling. Bonnell advisable a property for sale in his neighborhood, and Fowler shortly moved in.

Bonnell invited his new neighbor to play tennis, and the pair often satisfied at 9 a.m. for matches. But Fowler remembered the “changeovers” — in which players change sides through sport breaks — more than the matches themselves since of the discussions they had through these moments.

“He didn’t seriously treatment about whether or not he was successful and who’s getting rid of,” Fowler reported. “What I feel he cared about was just form of cultivating a friendship and creating absolutely sure I felt comfortable.”

Bonnell experienced a knack for breeding friendships and uplifting young writers. Whilst at The Herald-Journal, he fulfilled a then-26-yr-previous David Ramsey, now a sporting activities columnist at The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Bonnell, a number of yrs older than Ramsey, passed together the “little secrets” of functioning in the business.

Bonnell supplied this kind of help during his more than 40 yrs as a reporter, throughout generations of writers at The Every day Orange and The Charlotte Observer. The past tweets from Bonnell’s Twitter account are retweets of tales from youthful writers and former Observer interns.


“Every time we had a new crop of interns below every single summertime, Rick would … formally mentor just one,” Fowler claimed. “But he would unofficially mentor absolutely everyone who desired any guidance because he just definitely favored that.”

Bonnell leaves at the rear of a legacy of training, Fowler reported. Bonnell designed it his objective to make new writers relaxed in the office and to compliment their get the job done.

“He would just make guaranteed we notify (younger writers), ‘Wow! What a superior story you wrote,’” Fowler said. “He would have read through it and had some form of particular compliment.”

Along with encouraging youthful writers, Bonnell was a established reporter. Colleagues remembered him as trusted and a person they “never experienced to stress about.”

When Bud Poliquin grew to become The Syracuse Herald-Journal’s new govt sports editor in 1984, he stepped into the newsroom and uncovered Bonnell sitting down in the entrance row. Bonnell sported a white button-up shirt and black tie Poliquin’s very first day on the task.

Poliquin asked Bonnell why he was dressed so skillfully, to which Bonnell replied that the former sporting activities editor essential writers to dress well. Poliquin, coming from laid-again San Diego, recalled telling Bonnell that he could dress any way he selected as long as he “got the tale.” Soon soon after, Bonnell began dressing casually. And he normally acquired the tale.

Bonnell joined The Charlotte Observer in 1988, just in time to address the Hornets’ inaugural year. Bonnell traveled with the group for about 6 seasons in advance of having up the function of assistant athletics editor. But that stint didn’t previous long as Bonnell was not pleased with his stationery editorial occupation and the new conquer author for the Hornets did not appreciate the continuous vacation. The pair switched and Bonnell ongoing as the Hornets conquer author for the remainder of his profession.

Colleagues remembered Bonnell as a tenacious reporter and a thoughtful listener. Poliquin recalled Bonnell leaning in and tilting his head when he spoke to him. Ramsey credited Bonnell’s listening skill as one thing that made him a terrific journalist.

Bonnell’s byline appeared on thousands of activity stories, options, profiles and breaking news create-ups. But alongside the way, he crafted a extra profound legacy, Fowler explained, just one which is remaining powering in younger journalists’ work. He required other folks to have wonderful tales, so he taught writers how to report, how to compose and how to hear — the 3 aspects that outlined and formed Bonnell’s career.

“Rick was a unusual blend of a tremendous author, and a large reporter,” Ramsey claimed. “People that he wrote about acquired cozy with him and they would tell him and share terrific tales.”