Before Roger Ebert was a famous film critic, the Urbana native wrote about news and sports, and that's how one colleague is remembering him. Ebert passed away Thursday at the age of 70. He had battled cancer for years, and jaw surgery in 2006 left him unable to speak.
Dave Reed worked with Ebert at the University of Illinois' Daily Illini in the early 60's, and during the critic's early days at the Chicago Sun-Times. Reed says Ebert was Editor of the D-I when learning of President John F Kennedy's death. He says his colleague took charge as journalist should:
"As soon as you heard the news, you headed for the newspaper, because you knew there was a job to be done. And of course, Ebert was there, and directed that effort and in the middle of overseeing all that we were doing, he also wrote a great editorial and column. I thought they were just fabulous in the middle of everything else."
Last year, Ebert helped the Daily Illini raise money as it struggled financially, and worked with students on the guide to the annual Ebertfest, scheduled for April 17th through the 21st at the Virginia Theater in downtown Champaign. Publisher Lil Levant says students had just shipped Ebert this year's guide for his feedback.
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