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VOL. 44 | NO. 4 | Friday, January 24, 2020

Climer remembered as great writer, colleague

By Terry McCormick

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This story here really has nothing to do with Sunday’s AFC Championship Game between the Titans and Chiefs, except for the timing of what happened.

Sometime during the first half of Sunday’s 35-24 Titans loss, news broke that long-time Tennessean writer and columnist David Climer, 66, had died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.

No time is ever a good time to hear news like that, but maybe there was some odd timing that a man who made his living being one of the most respected sports journalists in Nashville’s recent history, passed on when he did.

David spent so many weekends of his life in stadiums and gymnasiums bringing Middle Tennessee readers the news and views about the sporting events we care so much about, that maybe it was somehow appropriate that the biggest football game this city has seen in nearly 20 years was briefly interrupted by the news of his passing.

David Climer enjoyed a side hustle with us at The Ledger after he retired from The Tennessean, writing columns about Tennessee sports as he had done for 38 years at the morning paper. I first asked him to write a personal piece about his career, and also asked him to write a weekly column. He said no, dismissing me with a nonchalant shrug despite the fact we’d worked together for almost 35 years. The next day, he called and said, “Becky (his wife) told me I was being foolish and ought to take you up on your offer, as always, the smarter one of us prevails.’’

— Cindy Smith

Of course, David never would have wanted it to be about him. That wasn’t his style. He was such an easy-to-like guy that even those who disagreed with him still valued his opinion and foresight on the topic – whether that be sports, politics or whatever. There certainly isn’t enough of that trait – willingness to listen and agreeing to disagree – in our world today.

I worked with David for three years back in the late 1980s, when I was still a green reporter, and he was The Tennessean’s beat writer covering the Tennessee Volunteers.

I moved to Jackson to work there for eight years, and later David and I reconnected in the late ‘90s when pro sports came to Nashville. I began covering the Titans for various outlets, and he had moved up to columnist for the Tennessean at a time when the daily newspaper was still the Midstate’s main source of news content.

I came to value David as a writer and a friend. He was someone I could bounce an idea off, even though he worked for a competing entity, and still feel like he was giving me honest and wholesome advice. I appreciated that then and still do today.

A new generation that has grown up on Twitter and Instagram might never know just what type of journalist and person David Climer was. But to those around Nashville old enough to have known him – or even if you just read his writing – we’ve lost a true friend and a valued journalist.

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