Overflow crowd gathers to honor slain Maryland journalist


OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Days after newspaper editor Rob Hiaasen and four colleagues were shot to death by a gunman in the Capital Gazette's newsroom, an overflow crowd gathered at a Maryland nature center this evening to remember the man they loved in stories, poems, and songs.

Hannah Hiaasen, his youngest daughter, said the family called him "Big Rob" – a nickname that perfectly fit the journalist who stood 6-foot-5. But it wasn't just his height that made the nickname ring true to those who knew him best.

"He was six five so it made sense, but also he had a really, really big heart," she said, before reading a poem in her dad's honor.

Kevin Cowherd, an author who worked with Hiaasen for years at The Baltimore Sun, described him as an open, fun-loving man who found humor in everything. As a writer, he was versatile and drawn to the quirky. As a colleague, he was kind and encouraging.

Cowherd and others said they would remember Hiaasen for how he lived, rather than the way he died senselessly at the hands of a gunman twisted by hate and festering rage.

"I want to just remember what a wonderful person Rob was and what a great, wonderful, selfless life he led," said Cowherd, one of several speakers who addressed the crowd assembled beneath a large white tent.

The Baltimore-based novelist Anne Tyler, whose works include "The Accidental Tourist" and the Pulitzer-prize-winning "Breathing Lessons," joined his family and colleagues to honor the friend she says she already misses.

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