One thing leads to another, and it’s not always good news.

I received an email “alert” from the professional connection site,

I have had an account on Linkedin for years, created solely because of my 26-year career in the corporate newspaper world.

Our company higher-ups at Intergalactic Headquarters in Atlanta required all of its executives to have, maintain and pretend to be engaged in their own professional Linkedin pages.

The site is kind of like Facebook, but instead of sharing pumpkin pie recipes and vacation photos of your dog, people share “inspiring” quotes from Tony Robbins and announce every time they receive a promotion at someone else’s expense.

I managed to sign into my page, after trying a half-dozen old passwords, to see the “alert” I received. Lo and behold, it was someone trying to sell me something.

Off to the side, I noticed an archived message from an old friend. He and his wife had a summer home outside of Ouray. He always quantified it when describing it as being “at 9,000 feet,” which was about as lofty as his braggadocious ways ever were.

His name was Tom Magstadt, and he walked into my office at the Ouray County Plaindealer one summer day, around 2014 or so, and started chatting it up.

An engaging guy, we talked as if we’d known each other for decades. Tom had a way of making you feel you were the most important person in the room.

He told me he was writer of sorts – books – and if I ever needed help with the paper, he was offering his services.

He didn’t list his qualifications which, as it turned out, were many. But I had a sense he was the genuine article, so I asked him to send me 800 words as a trial.

For the next four years, Tom wrote a monthly column for the Plaindealer. He dabbled in topics near and far, always thoughtful of the interests of the local audience.

I hadn’t seen Tom in a few years. We drifted a bit after I sold the newspaper in 2019. I googled him this week and found his obituary from June 2021. He was 76 years young.

The obit read, in part:

“He earned his doctorate at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and led a distinguished career that spanned half a century and multiple continents. It included chairing the political science departments at Augustana College and the University of Nebraska, teaching at the Air War College, the University of Missouri-Kansas, the University of Kansas and the University of Western Bohemia in the Czech Republic) where he was a Fulbright Scholar), and serving as a foreign intelligence analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency.”

Tom was also a prolific writer, which explains why he walked into my office that summer day. He loved contributing and never missed a deadline.

I paid him in 12-ounce installments at Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery in Ridgway.

With all of Tom’s accomplishments, there were just a few things he held near and dear, including his wife, Becky, his family, the Tuesday-morning coffee bunch back in Kansas City, an Irish Red from Colorado Boy and his cabin in the mountains.

Here’s how his shirttail read in the pages of the Plaindealer, at the end of his monthly submission:

“Tom Magstadt lives in a log cabin in the San Juan Mountains – except when he’s somewhere else.”

Sad news, indeed, that you’re not here with us now in the San Juans, Tom.

Alan Todd is a 35-year newspaper veteran who lives in Ouray County. He can be reached at