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‘Gentle giant’ among 11 going into Butler County Sports Hall of Fame

Right about now, Pete Conrad would feel uncomfortable.

Not because his 6-foot-1 frame was too large for his office chair, but because of the attention and praise being reaped on him, the man sometimes described as “a gentle giant.”

Conrad made his living writing about people, mostly high school, college and professional athletes. He had a way with words, and he preferred others to grab the headlines. He was quiet, very unassuming, but his stories — those that appeared in Butler and Warren county newspapers for decades — had a way of drawing readers into the action.

He painted pictures with prose.

Like all the great journalists, Conrad’s talents looked effortless. His fingers seem to glide over the typewriter, then later the keyboard. Writer’s block wasn’t in his vast vocabulary.

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“Pete Conrad was a great guy and a consummate professional,” said Dirk Allen, who worked with Conrad at the Journal-News for nearly 20 years. “He was a pleasure to work with … unflappable on deadline. He was very creative, really enjoyed covering Miami University sports, and had that ability to write knowledgeably about whatever sport he was covering at the time.”

“Pete never made himself the center of a story,” Allen said.

Now, Conrad is part of the story.

He recently was named an inductee into this year’s Butler County Sports Hall of Fame class, joining Jim Blount (Hamilton), Joe Giuliano (Hamilton), Ray Hamilton (Butler County), Marc Johnson (Middletown), Stan Kappers (Fairfield), Pam Goetz Mitchell (Middletown), Kyle Schwarber (Middletown), John Smith (Hamilton), Brenda Stieger (Fairfield) and Angela Tolbert (Hamilton).

Those 11 will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Nov. 18 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Hamilton. Sports stories and beverages will certainly flow that night.

Unfortunately, Conrad won’t be there to chronicle the ceremony. He died March 4, 2013, at University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He was 56, another “good one” taken too soon.

This latest honor comes five years after Miami University hung a plaque in Yager Stadium’s press box honoring Conrad, who spent 29 years covering Miami sports. He was editor of The Oxford Press and longtime Miami University sports reporter at the Hamilton Journal-News.

The 1974 Talawanda High School and 1978 Miami University graduate loved spending his fall Saturdays in Oxford.

Oxford was his daily dateline and where he felt most at home.

Stu Eversole, a former Butler County coach and athletic director, called Conrad “a tireless worker,” who understood that, in most cases, he was writing and sharing perspectives on young people. Conrad didn’t see the point in criticizing a 16-year-old for missing a last-second shot. Instead, he highlighted the kid who grabbed the rebound.

“His sensitivities to the environment he was working in set him apart from those looking to sensationalize the high school sports scene,” said Eversole, who knew Conrad for more than 30 years. “He also was a very likeable guy who fit in with a variety of settings.”

Steve Morrison worked with Conrad for about a decade and the two were friends for 30 years. Morrison was the driving force behind Miami honoring Conrad.

“He was kind and gentle in a world full of folks in journalism who are gruff and cynical,” said Morrison, a copy editor at Cox Media Group. “He worked hard and he did his job quietly and beautifully.”

Conrad served on the Butler County Hall of Fame Committee for many years and was instrumental in promoting the event.

“Without question,” Eversole said, “he left a positive journalistic mark in Butler County and is missed.”

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