Quietly, the wine industry lost one of its dearest advocates. Because Harold J. Baer, Jr. was working and living in Denver, Colorado, he wasn’t as connected to the rest of us living in California, or even New York City’s wine media group… He simply and quietly reported on wines for the Denver areas. I could always count on Harold to fairly and quickly review any wines that I had sent his way.
We had wonderful Saturday morning chats. Whenever he needed to talk, he’d call on a Saturday, and we’d chat, giggle, share wine news, and enjoy each other’s company for quite a while. I adored him… I hadn’t heard from him for a while. In fact, my heart just breaks to even admit that the last Saturday he called me, I was so busy that I couldn’t even pick up the phone… And, then, it didn’t ring for a long time, but I was still so busy that I hadn’t focused on calling him back. Harold never left messages for those Saturday morning exchanges. If we connected, it was meant to be. If we didn’t, there was always the next time.
I never had to call to ask if I could send samples when it was promotional times. I had been sending them for 20 years. He was stable, and his address wasn’t going to change, and he rarely traveled. When he did come to California, he’d call me and we’d get together for dinner.
Harold J. Baer was one of my rocks…
I had a recent shipment of samples going out to a very small circle of writers. They shipped and my winery contact got back to me.
“Jo, Harold Bear’s wines are being returned. I just spoke with FedEx and they said that Harold would pick up his packages at the FedEx office, but he has since died. I thought you might want to know and update your writer’s information.”
I wrote back, “What… He’s a dear friend. This is a shock for me… So sad. I can’t believe it, but I’ll search on him for an obit… tears.”
Sure enough, there it was in the Denver Post obituaries… And just as my contact wrote to me, “I’m sorry that I’m the one to tell you.”
Harold J. Baer, 66, died unexpectedly on June 12th. After being raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Denver became his home upon entering the University of Denver where he earned 3 degrees. Subsequently, he joined the US Solicitor’s Office and then had a private law practice. Harold served on the Colorado Bar Association’s Availability of Legal Services Committee and received the CBA Pro Bono Award. For the past 20 years, Harold wrote about wine. He founded the Colorado Wine News and more recently a wine blog. For his efforts he received the Academy of Wine Communications Certificate of Commendation. Harold had an equal passion for music, especially Bach, which he played on his harpsichord. He was a regular volunteer for the Interfaith Hospitality Network and the Park Hill Co-operative Bookstore. At his request there will be no services. Harold is survived by his brother Lawrence J. Baer (Christine) of Belmont, Michigan and his partner Carole Wright, Denver. Memorial contributions may be made to Friends of Chamber Music, 458 Grape Street, Denver, CO 80220. A celebration of life will occur later this summer.
Published in Denver Post on July 14, 2013
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