I had already written most of this week's cooking column when we in the newsroom learned that Dick Kreitner had passed away.

I had already written most of this week's cooking column when we in the newsroom learned that Dick Kreitner had passed away.

The Wayne Independent's beloved food writer died of an apparent heart attack at his home Monday evening.

He was 85-years-old.

In light of this very sad occasion, I won't even try to follow in Dick's footsteps with a recipe this week.

However, I will take a few minutes to tell you a little bit about the man I have been fortunate enough to call friend and colleague for the past 30 years.

Good Memories

I first got to know Dick Kreitner as a high schooler.

He and my parents had been friends for years, but my first clear memory of Dick came in his capacity as Mayor of Honesdale.

He served the people of this borough for eight years (1981-89) and was without question one of our most respected leaders.

In 1983, my Honesdale Hornet football team had advanced to the Eastern Conference championship game for the second time in four years.

Mayor Kreitner came up to the school to pose for pictures with me and my fellow tri-captains. He proclaimed "Honesdale Hornet Week" in the borough and spent a good 15 minutes talking with us.

He shook our hands, congratulated us on the season and made us laugh with a couple of corny jokes (of which he was the master!)

Dick was as amiable and approachable a man as you're ever likely to meet. He had strong political views, but never let them get in the way of a friendly conversation.

In fact, his personality was a perfect fit for his life's vocation, which was running a restaurant.

I can't even estimate the number of times I ate at Kreitner's on 10th Street in Honesdale. The food was good, the atmosphere was friendly and the company was unparalleled.

Several of my high school friends worked at Kreitner's as dishwashers, busboys and waitresses. To a person, they all remember Dick as the nicest boss they every had the pleasure of working for.

"Dick loved to cook," said longtime friend Dr. Walter Barbe. "And he was very talented. It gave him great joy to cook for his family and friends."

In fact, the last moments of Dick's life were spent in his favorite place: the kitchen. He was preparing dinner for his beloved wife when the end came.

"Dick quite literally died with his apron on," said Dr. Barbe with a smile. "It was very appropriate. He died doing what he loved most."

On the Wall

As I type these words at the TWI Sports Desk, I can feel Dick's presence.

Not five feet from my computer hangs a giant poster, an advertisement for a billiards showdown between the legendary Babe Didrikson and Honesdale's own Ruth McGinnis.

This one-on-one match took place in New York City in the early '30s and the poster had a place of honor on the restaurant wall for decades. Now, it stands as a silent witness to Dick's passion for local history.

"Dick was a huge part of his community," Dr. Barbe said. "He just loved Honesdale and it showed. Dick spent most of his life giving back to the community."

Lasting Legacy

Many will remember Kreitner for his eight years as mayor and his decades of volunteer service at the Wayne County Historical Society.

However, to most of our loyal readers, Dick will always be the smiling proprietor of "Kreitner's Cooking Corner."

This piece ran for many years in the Weekly Almanac, then here in The Wayne Independent.

Dick mixed folksy humor with penetrating insight, culinary instincts and a bona fide passion.

His once weekly missives from the kitchen brimmed with good ideas, practical advice and ... most importantly of all ... delicious recipes!

"We're all going to miss him so much," TWI Publisher Michelle Hessling said. "Dick had an uncanny knack for turning around even your worst day.

"He was genuine, kind and sincere. Dick made everyone he met feel like the most important person in the universe while they were talking."

After 37 years at the restaurant, then nearly 20 more penning his weekly column, Dick Kreitner retired to his own personal kitchen for good.

He spent the last days of his life doing what he loved most. He cooked, he talked, he commiserated with friends and family.

Dick leaves behind a legacy of wonderful memories and big, broad smiles. He'll be sorely missed, but he will never be forgotten.

R.I.P., Dick.

Kevin Edwards is sports editor for The Wayne Independent.