Our hearts are heavy today. And they likely will be for some time to come.
Jeremy Arias, the News-Post’s cops and courts reporter and every kid’s highlight of a News-Post newsroom tour, died Monday following a very brief illness. He was just 34.
If you’re a reader of The Frederick News-Post, you know Jeremy’s work. His coverage of crime, police and the criminal justice system has been a staple on our pages since he arrived here in 2014. If there was a windmill to be tilted or a story of injustice to be told, Jeremy was your man. He won more than his share of awards, and he ruffled more than his share of feathers.
Being a little bit tough comes with the cops beat. But Jeremy never lost his compassion. Truth be told, he was a bit of a softie, and he cared deeply about journalism and the people of this community.
Jeremy had a deft touch in communicating with residents going through grief. Due to the nature of his job, he wrote more than his fair share of stories about death and, as difficult as those stories can be, he always approached them responsibly and with empathy. There’s irony that Jeremy was so good at writing about people who lost loved ones, and now we’re writing about losing him. In writing this, we hope we learned from the example he set.
Those in the newsroom were fortunate to know Jeremy and experience his care for others daily. Jeremy was a fierce friend and an aggressive advocate for his co-workers. He was someone with a personality that could fill the room. If you found yourself in an argument with him, you had better be prepared. Jeremy had a dry wit, a sense of right and wrong and a drive to make sure that those without a voice were heard through his work.
We also saw his love of Star Wars, for his family and for his quest to deep fry the perfect turkey in the FNP outdoor courtyard around holiday season. When a tour group came through the newsroom, it was Jeremy who had the best stories to tell. We still remember the time a young boy came through the office and quickly became enamored with a plastic red fireman’s hat Jeremy kept on his desk. Jeremy put the hat on the kid’s head and told him to keep it, something that overjoyed the boy and his mom.
Kids visiting the newsroom also often were greeted by him wearing a Batman mask in hopes to put a smile on their faces as he explained the daily rigors of his job.
In the community, Jeremy was a staunch supporter of Maryland Special Olympics, organizing several FNP teams to take a polar plunge organized by the Frederick Police Department. He raised money for the organization in hopes of supporting those less fortunate than him and challenged his coworkers to do the same.
He never hesitated to be there for his fellow reporters. Whether it was a phone call to offer advice during a difficult time, a car ride or help with a story, Jeremy was always there for support. He was often the first reporter to greet a new hire and volunteer to show them around Frederick.
Before coming to the News-Post, Jeremy worked for the Patriot-News in Harrisburg and before that for the Montgomery County Gazette as its Takoma Park reporter. He studied journalism at the University of Maryland. Over the past few days, we’ve heard from his former co-workers who are just as grief-stricken as we are. We’ve heard from those whom he covered in the last day as the news filtered out.
To say he will be missed does not begin to describe the hole Jeremy’s death leaves in our newsroom and our company. And for everyone left behind, it won’t be easy. But we will grieve and move forward because that’s what we have to do, as difficult as that will be.
We are, however, comforted by the fact that Jeremy’s passion for life, and compassion for people, will not be forgotten. Whenever a colleague or friend needed help moving, he immediately offered to volunteer. Whenever they needed a pick-me-up story or a joke to laugh at, he was prepared.
In a time that seems increasingly confusing by the week, day, and even hour, Jeremy reminded us about the power and importance of selflessness. Life can seem incredibly difficult, but providing for those less fortunate should never be a lost ideal. Jeremy’s actions taught us that.