Thursday, July 24, 2003

BRYANT SNAPP and I went back a long way, longer than any of my other Post colleagues. We met in 1989 on the copy desk of the Washington Times and worked together there until I left for the Post in 1997. He succeeded me as Times copy chief and quickly put me to shame as a manager. Bryant left the Times not too long after that to move with his then-partner to Philadelphia. In 1999, he told me he was coming back to Washington and asked if there were any appropriate openings at the Post. The interval between my telling the National copy chief about him and his being hired must have set a record for the Post's normally glacial hiring process. Before long he was deputy National copy chief, and recently he became editorial-page copy chief.

He was a fellow tennis fan, a fellow "Amazing Race" junkie, a guest at my wedding, one of the best editors I've ever known and--as strange as it sounds to me, as the Washington, D.C., portion of my life has grown longer than the Arizona portion and is gaining on the Michigan portion--one of my oldest friends.

Bryant, who was 36, died Tuesday in a car accident while on vacation in Washington state. On the two-lane road to Mount St. Helens, a water tanker edged off the pavement, overcorrected and crossed the center line, hitting the car in which Bryant was riding head on. All three people in the car--Bryant; his new partner, whom he married last year in a Hawaii commitment ceremony; and their friend who was driving--were killed.

* * *

Bryant took a good deal of grief about his name. There was his story about how his mom insists he would have been Ginger Snapp if he had been a girl. And his first and middle names begged to be misunderstood; I hope he's Bryant Davis Snapp in all the obituaries, not "Brian David Snapp."

He would lament the fact that the most well-known Bryants weren't exactly the people he wanted to be compared to. As a gay man, he didn't exactly fancy Anita Bryant. And as a sensible man, he didn't consider Bryant Gumbel all that much better. Those observations came years before today's most famous Bryant, Kobe Bryant, emerged.

My last communication with Bryant was about this new namesake:

I hope you'll be clipping all those Bryant Charged With Assault headlines to brighten up your workspace.
-- WALSHB 7/18/2003 7:31:58 PM

You bet. I can put them with the one I still have from the Post Sports section from my college days:

"Bryant Has
The Beef
And Wants
The Ball"
-- SNAPPB  7/18/2003 8:41:32 PM

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