Dave Munn started working at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in 1960 at the newspaper's former headquarters at 72 Main St., current home of the Main Street Exchange thrift shop. He worked here full-time for 38 years and part-time another 10. So yeah, we knew him real well. He was part of our family.
Hearing of his passing made our hearts skip a beat and triggered a flood of memories, as well as a few tears. Dave was tough and demanding but also cheerful and supportive. He was blunt about what had to be done but understanding about how bad, complicated things can happen to people.
He had wisdom earned from experience and a great sense of fairness; he knew and loved his community deeply and was optimistic about it. In hindsight, we regret we didn't invite him to join our editorial board.
Dave Munn in an Enterprise staff photo in 1994
Saranac Lakers saw him often because he walked around town so much, for his health. A typical sight would have been him sitting on a park bench, with a New York Giants or Saranac Lake High School cap on his head and a rolled-up Enterprise in his back pocket, happily chatting with anyone who said hello.
There are a lot of Munns in Saranac Lake, and eight of them are his children. He was very proud of them and talked about them often at the office.
Along with his strong family values and unshaken faith, he had an incredibly hard work ethic. At the Enterprise we respected him as if he were our own father, and feared him as a father, too. He kept us in line and taught us to take pride in everything we did. If headlines were misspelled, ads late or a football score missed, he would rush through the department red-faced with vessels bulging as we all would scatter.
But such outbursts were more memorable than common. Most memories of Dave involve his hearty laughter from teasing or joking with co-workers. His sense of humor helped us all release the stress of a busy day. He also had a habit of whistling an unrecognizable tune at the end of the day when things would wind down. Not sure, but it sounded like the theme song to a Clint Eastwood movie.
Dave started out at the Enterprise as a linotype operator in a clanking part of the bowels of the 72 Main building. He went from hot lead to a typewriter that printed strips of type, to a Compugraph station connected to a mainframe, to clunky MDT computers in the '80s, to the quiet whisper of tapping keys on today's computers.
"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in," Michael Corleone said in "The Godfather, Part III." Such is the life of many Enterprise retirees. Dave retired in 1998 but returned shortly afterward on a part-time basis, helping prepare the TV listings until 2008. He worked the longest stint of any Enterprise employee, with Jim Bishop coming in second place and still working.
Dave was conscientious and was never sick or late to work. He was a no-nonsense type of guy who would tell you honestly what he thought. Proofreaders who lingered too long over the pages got used to his sharp but cheery bark, "Read it tonight!"
Another refrain of his: As the semi-retired Dave would stop in daily to download the TV listings, someone would inevitably ask him, "How's it going, Dave?" Sometimes, if you were lucky, he'd slowly unroll that day's new Enterprise, open it to page 3 and say, "I don't see my obit, and my kids aren't in the police blotter, so it must be a good day."
Well, while his obit is in today's Enterprise, we think he is happy - just look at that photo of him on page 3 if you have any doubts. We believe he not only had a good day but a good life on earth and an even better afterlife, joining his wife in heaven. But we'll sure miss having him around.