Bittersweet Tribute

Posted on February 9, 2012 


            One of the things that I’ve looked at from time to time is the role of the Press in the disappearance of Ray Gricar, the former district attorney of Centre County.  Throughout that time, from well before Mr. Gricar disappeared, there has been one person, an “old Gricar hand.” That is the Editor of the Centre Daily Times, Bob Heisse.

He is leaving to take the position of editor for the State Journal Register, in Springfield Illinois.1  For me, it is a bittersweet moment.

            I will start with the bitter, my sadness in the departure of Mr. Heisse.  There are very few people that there were there on 4/15/05, who watched the investigation into Mr. Gricar evolve.  There are fewer that focused on it from the start.  One is Mr. Heisse, not merely an “old Gricar hand,” but a hand that pushed for a solution for the case, no matter where it went.

            I’ve called the coverage of the Gricar disappearance in the first 30 days of the case “All Gricar, all the time,” something the CDT shared with other media.  After the first 30 days or so, it was the CDT, under Mr. Heisse’s leadership and with his encouragement that carried the story.  Think about the names of the reporters that Mr. Heisse chose to cover this story in depth, Erin Nissley, Pete Bosak, Sara Ganim.  You really cannot research this story without looking at what they wrote.  Ms. Nissley, did the initial groundbreaking research; I think she was the first to mention the famous “Mystery Woman.”  Mr. Bosak’s “Missed Leads” is still one of the seminal articles on the Gricar case, more than five years later; Mr. Bosak wrote it, but Mr. Heisse ran it.  Ms. Ganim, who looks like she might be on her way to a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the intersecting Sandusky Scandal, started under his editorship.  

On the Internet, there was first a question and answer forum, then the “Just Gricar,” then “Sporadic Comments.”  He was a smart enough businessman to get someone to do it for free.  That has kept the case in the public eye more so than many others across the country, even some that as deserving or more deserving, that the Gricar case.  That was due Mr. Heisse’s tolerance, if not encouragement.  A few years ago (wow, yes, years ago), I called the staff of the Centre Daily Times “unsung heroes”2 of the Gricar case.  Mr. Heisse is one of those heroes and helped make other heroes as well.  I will miss him.

The sweet part is Mr. Heisse’s new assignment.  It is a job, a collateral position, with a larger newspaper, more staff, and one that covers, in depth, state politics.  It will cover the legislature that, a decade ago, included a member named Barak Obama.  If I would have had an opportunity like that, I’d take it.  I can’t complain about that.

So, good luck on your new assignment Mr. Heisse.  It is a great opportunity, well earned, and one which I’m sure he will excel.  

End Notes





Centre Daily Times Ray Gricar Section:

Link to the Main Index for Sporadic Comments on Ray Gricar:

E-mail J. J. in Phila at

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