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Celebration of life for "Big" Rob Hiaasen

Capital Gazette shooting victim remembered
Posted at 11:24 PM, Jul 02, 2018

An emotional celebration of life for Rob Hiaasen, one of the victims of the Capital Gazette shooting.

The people that knew him best said he never would have wanted to be the center of a story. 

“Big Rob” as he was affectionately called shared a love of poetry with his youngest daughter Hannah.

She described how a hug from her dad could make her feel.          

"Even though we were close in size it felt like he was pulling up and reaching the best part of me,” Hannah said.  “I think he did that with all of us."

A career in journalism put Kevin Cowherd's desk next to Hiaasen's at the Baltimore Sun for 15 years.

Rob's sense of humor made them friends for life.

"He was a big man who needed to laugh the way he needed oxygen."

When he became an editor at the Capital Gazette in 2010 his role shifted to mentoring young reporters.

Also taking on the role of Professor of a news writing class at the University of Maryland.

Cowherd refuses to remember his friend as a victim, saying his friend believed in the importance of journalism now more than ever.            

"Rob was telling these young people at College Park, hey we need you out there.  We need you out there reporting the facts and telling the truth."

His older sister Judy said her baby brother was always moms favorite.

"He was the favorite, he was everyone’s favorite,” Judy said.

Carl Hiaasen is a well-known author, he never worked with his brother.

Admiring his commitment to the craft and eye for the human behind every story.

"Somebody who was homeless and needed a voice that he was never going to get except in a newspaper column or in the pages of a newspaper,” Carl said.  “He was tireless and would not back down, he would stay with the story, he would stay with the cause."

His first-born Ben fighting back tears while he read what his dad called his most important words.

Sharing a passage his father wrote for his children to read to their children someday.

"I love you, as you read this and your boy or girl is sleeping or eating then you are loved too, true love."

Just a month ago Maria was celebrating 33 years with her best friend.

"He would look at me and look at those kids and he would just say “You’re my home, and that's all that matters.”

His family in news and at home celebrating the larger than life man and saying goodbye.

The family has asked that any donations go towards the ACLU, the National Parks Conservation Association, Planned Parenthood, or the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.