Raimondo was more than a ‘spokesman’

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, June 20, 2018

I’m sitting here at my desk looking at a picture of a smiling Greg Raimondo on the cover of the program for his memorial service Tuesday.

Today, funeral services for Greg will be in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. The memorial service honoring him Tuesday morning was a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man and filled with many humorous anecdotes from friends and co-workers. It was an event Greg would have enjoyed.

I was surprised and saddened when I heard about Greg’s death. Although I didn’t have as close a relationship with him as his co-workers did, I came to consider him a friend. The last time I saw him was at Eagle Lake, when the 2018 flood was threatening areas of the community.

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Greg always answered the phone with a cheerful voice, sometimes, using the phrase many people attributed to him Tuesday — “Hey, brother!” — and “what can I do for you.”

It was very rare when I called about some information that Greg didn’t have the answer. If he didn’t have it, he would get it. There were many times, I would get a call back from Greg with the greeting, “Hey, I’ve got (whomever) here in my office; he (or she) can explain it to you better than I can,” or “I’m in so-and-so’s office; they’ve been working on that.”

Most of my dealings with Greg were during flood periods, and he gave me an education on flood fighting, and what NOAA or National Weather Service websites had information on long range rainfall and river stage predictions. He taught me how the Steele Bayou control structure operated and how decisions were made when to open the facility.

When you work in the news business, you have the occasion to work with any number of public affairs/information officers, bureaucrats, department heads and people who somewhere along the line are called “spokesman,” “spokeswoman,” or the politically correct “spokesperson.”

Over the years, when it came to calling government agencies and companies, I’ve dealt with some very good people, some terrible, some who made themselves more important than they were, and some who couldn’t accurately tell you the time of day looking at a digital watch. I’ve run into a few people who I felt were placed in the public information position because the bosses believed that was where the individual could do the least harm.

I have a small list of people with whom talking to was pure joy. Greg Raimondo is at the top of that list. He was an engineer by training, but he didn’t act like one. I’ve often said that if you ask an engineer where someplace was, he would give you directions to get there. Greg was always direct and to the point.

I know someone will take Greg’s position, but it won’t be the same; it won’t be Greg, and I’ll miss him, his voice, and his knowledge of the District.

Rest in peace, my friend.

John Surratt is a staff writer at The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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