Carlos Hernandez Gomez, a break-the-mold Chicago political reporter, died Sunday at the age of 36 surrounded by his family after an inspiring battle with cancer.
In his fierce questioning of power and rabid digging for the truth, Carlos kept reporters around him on their toes, whether on a frigid, salt-stained corner in Chicago or in the reverent halls of the state Capitol.
When he was a radio reporter for WBEZ, he was one of the few to shout over the boisterous TV reporters. Later as a CLTV reporter, he was one of the few to let a thoughtful print guy get some time.
But while the professional Carlos made the cynical political press corps take notice -- and equally as often laugh like children -- he had an even deeper impact in this last year.
"I'm going to beat this," he would say with fiery conviction at every gaggle, still on the charge with tumors in his body.
Carlos was a leader as a reporter, and more importantly, as a person.
Life can come up short on humanity. But Carlos exuded far more than his share.
The press corps is not known for warm embraces, especially for their own kind.
Carlos, however, would joke and gab with the alphas just as often as the runts. His friendships spanned the social ladder and connected every rung.
Without Carlos, the storied Chicago press corps is less.
Yet, for having known him, been inspired by him, been thrown into fits of laughter and pushed to keep fighting by him - we are all better people than before.
Services are pending.
Condolences from the most powerful people in the state and country have started pouring in.
From President Barack Obama:
“I was saddened to hear of the passing of Carlos Hernandez Gomez. Our paths first crossed when I was a State Senator. He was a throwback in the style of Chicago’s storied political reporters. He loved Chicago, and he relentlessly sought to tell its story with the commitment to truth and the insatiable curiosity that any good reporter has to have. I quickly learned that when you saw his sharp fedora in a crowd, hard questions were coming. But Carlos always played it straight. And I always enjoyed our interactions in Springfield, Chicago, or on the campaign trail. Carlos was a role model to many, and an integral part of the Chicago story he strived to tell. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Randi and his family.”
From Gov. Pat Quinn:
"It is with great sadness that I extend my condolences to the family of Carlos Hernandez Gomez. I have had the honor of working with Carlos for many years. He was a talented journalist, a loving husband and good friend to us all. Everyone who knew Carlos always respected his vigor, professionalism and personal integrity. He served as a role model as we watched him battle cancer with courage, tenacity and, above all, optimism. Illinois has lost one of its best. He will be deeply missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time."