We are stunned to report the Feb. 24 death of long-time publisher Ralph Bernard Reeves III, aka Bernie, the erudite regional champion of the arts and conservative causes, interests that in his case were not mutually exclusive. His establishment of Spectator Magazine in 1978 was a stroke of genius; the a&e newsweekly in short order united coverage of Triangle arts and culture in a single free publication that gave the dailies runs for their money in more ways than one. His stable of writers literally (no pun intended) included some of the most gifted and talented journalists in captivity, folks who despite out-sized personalities managed to work alongside each other as the enterprise grew from relatively humble beginnings on Hillsborough Street to somewhat more spacious quarters on Oberlin Road and then Fulton Street a score of years later. The paper’s ultimate sale to Creative Loafing was perhaps as inevitable, given the times, as it was lamentable: when the new owners gutted the weekly’s arts coverage and hired a sports writer, the end was palpably near. Then, when the CL operation collapsed due to financial stress and totally inept management, Independent benefited (for a while) from Spectator’s extensive calendar but in short order pulled the plug on its former rival’s online archives, in the process ditching years of significant writing, and never mind the social and cultural history contained in all those articles.

Bernie’s obit is here. Our hearts go out to Bernie’s family. former colleagues, and numerous friends and admirers.

A memorial service will be held on Thursday, March 1, at 11 a.m., at Christ Church, in downtown Raleigh. If only a fraction of his former scribes show up, the place will be more than amply illuminated.

(Let the record show that it was the demise of Spectator, coupled with Indy‘s inexplicable decision to abandon classical music reviews, that led directly to the creation of CVNC.)