Christopher 'Chris' Guy, Baltimore Sun reporter and editor who chronicled life on the Eastern Shore, dies

Christopher Guy, a Baltimore Sun reporter and editor whose byline appeared on colorful stories that offered vivid insight about life on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, died Nov. 2 of complications from dementia at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital in Onancock, Va. The Easton resident was 65.

“Chris was a keen observer of things and … a chronicler of change on the Eastern Shore. He found details and honed in on them,” said Rona Kobell of Towson, a former reporter for The Sun who collaborated with Mr. Guy.

“He wouldn’t just tell you a town was stuck in the past — he’d tell you the parking meters still took nickels and the local sandwich shop sold ammo along with cheese steaks,” Ms. Kobell said. “To most people, a shore gas station carrying sushi was but a footnote. But Chris could see that that addition portended a changing demographic.”

Mr. Guy once described his work on the Eastern Shore as covering “everything from growth and development that threatens the region’s rural character to a worsening crisis in the seafood industry.”

“The only way to describe Chris was in the way he wrote,” said former Congressman Wayne T. Gilchrest, a Kennedyville resident who represented the 1st District. “When you read a story by Chris you were left with great information, and that reliability was comforting.”

Slightly beefy and with his tie-less shirt, three-quarter-length leather coat that was always open and an irregular salt-and-pepper beard, Mr. Guy looked more like a gruff night dispatcher at a trucking company than a newsroom editor.

“Chris was a newsman’s newsman,” said Candus “Candy” Thomson, former editor of The Anne Arundel Sun who appointed Mr. Guy as the paper’s day editor.

“Back when our young reporters all wanted to be Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, Chris would tell them, ‘Every day you get the news and you put it in the paper, and then you do it the next day, and the day after that,’” Ms. Thomson said.

Stewart Christopher Guy was born in Nassawadox, Va., the son of William H. Guy, a general store owner, and Billye Farmer Guy, a homemaker. He never used his first name, and never lost the southern lilt to his voice.

After graduating from Central High School in Melfa, Va., he served in the Army guarding nuclear-armed Nike Hercules missiles in West Germany. After being discharged he moved to Richmond, Va., where he enrolled at Virginia Commonwealth University as a mass communications major.

In 1981, he married the former Melissa Grimes, a photographer.

He dropped out of college his senior year, moved to Bolton Hill in Baltimore, and began a journalism career in 1982. He was a general assignment reporter for the Towson Times and the Baltimore Messenger, covering government and writing features. In 1984 he joined the staff of the Carroll County Times. There, he reported on the General Assembly and wrote about potential fraud in a computer voting system in the county.

He worked briefly for the Prince George’s Journal before joining The Arundel Sun in 1987.

“I always appreciated, and in no small way envied, his ability to cut to the core of things, to see past any flotsam that might be in the way of a good story or of reporters getting the job done,” said Chris Kaltenbach, a features reporter for The Sun who worked with Mr. Guy.

“Chris was unflappable, a great person to have around in a pinch. He was talented, clearheaded and funny — the perfect traits for any editor,” Mr. Kaltenbach said. “Reporters loved working with him.”

Ms. Thomson said, “He had patience, and that’s what made him a really good editor. He loved and lived journalism.”

He later served as a bureau chief for The Sun’s operations in Howard County, then Carroll County. “He was always empathetic and lent an ear to anyone who needed comfort,” said Jill Zarend-Kubatko of Annapolis, who worked with Mr. Guy as an editorial assistant in those bureaus.

Mr. Guy emerged from the editing ranks when he took over The Sun’s one-man bureau in Easton in 1998.

He covered the 3,000-square-mile Eastern Shore, and wrote articles about the environment, the Chesapeake Bay and “small-town life in a region where agriculture remains a financial and cultural pillar,” as he once described it.

“He had a sense of place because he lived there, and he could find stories others missed. He was defined by them,” said Ms. Kobell, now a science writer and editor at Maryland Sea Grant.

One of his most significant pieces was the “Pilgrims of the Palomas,” for which he traveled to Mexico in 2005 to document the stories of the women who traveled each year from a small village to work on the Eastern Shore picking crabs to support their families back home.

The reports displayed Mr. Guy’s mastery for colorful and powerful writing.

“PALOMAS, Mexico — Powdery gray dust clouds rise around her ankles with each footstep, then hang and drift on the breeze as Trinidad Tovar Tovar bustles about the bare dirt yard outside the concrete and cinderblock house she shares with her three grown sons and their families,” he wrote. “Nearby, a listless menagerie of chickens, goats, a burro and two scrawny dogs wait for a handout.”

His body of work in a two-decade career at The Sun totaled 1,025 articles.

“He was a good reporter, a fluid writer with a great eye for color and detail,” said William K. Marimow, former editor of The Sun.

After the Eastern Shore bureau was closed in 2008, Mr. Guy briefly covered Anne Arundel County for The Sun, then joined the communications office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.

“I was so impressed by this guy and his work I said, ‘We have to get him,’ ” said Sandy Miller Hayes, director of communications until retiring in 2014. “He was a fabulous storyteller. … I could assign him stories about Christmas trees one day or soybeans the next, and he approached each one with enthusiasm.”

He retired in 2013.

Mr. Guy was a fan of “authentic” American country music, his wife said.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Third Haven Friends Meeting, 405 S. Washington St., Easton.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Alexander Guy of Paris and Dylan Guy of Brooklyn, N.Y.; his mother, of Melfa; a brother, Bill Guy of Melfa; and two sisters, Susan Morey and Beth McLoughlin, both of Melfa.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
46°