I first met Pierre Tristam at a rally for the Flagler County Tea Party. I like the irony of that sentence.
I didn’t appreciate the irony at the time because it was 2010, and I was new in town. Pierre launched FlaglerLive.com nearly at the same time that the Palm Coast Observer began publishing. I didn’t know then that Pierre was a former Daytona Beach News-Journal reporter and editorial writer, and that he had political leanings that, shall we say, clashed with the Tea Party.
But in that first encounter, and in all others, I came away respecting Pierre for his intellectual vitality, the breadth of his interests and research, his unparalleled work ethic and his fierce defense of the freedom of the press. I have also come to respect and admire his wife, Cheryl, who is the fearless leader of the Flagler Youth Orchestra. (I wrote about her almost exactly one year ago here.)
He is an institution, a man who seems to know everyone and be everywhere at once, from car crashes to fires to government meetings to art openings. His stories and commentary catch the attention of influential people all over the county, some of whom claim not to read his site but still seem to know what it says.
If you get to know him personally, you can also see that above all, he is a loving husband and father. And it’s that role that causes the most heartache surrounding his most shocking article ever on FlaglerLive.com: “The Diagnosis.”
For those who haven’t heard, Pierre has been diagnosed with cancer. Check out the story on his site for the details. I commend him for writing about it in such an honest way. He’s in a unique position to help others who might feel afraid or alone because of cancer. I hope he’s willing to continue giving us all updates on how he’s doing.
A month ago, after appearing on WNZF with David Ayres, we spent an hour in the parking lot swapping recommendations on novels that we had been reading. In the next couple of days, we kept the conversation going via email. Since then, I read “The Diagnosis,” but I hadn’t seen him.
Then, on Monday, we crossed paths again, this time at the fire off Seminole Woods Boulevard. We waved from across the median as we interviewed different fire officials and took pictures of the smoke that ballooned menacingly over the city. We left at different times and didn’t exchange any words. But it was comforting to see him there, to feel that pressure, like always, to race back to the office to post my photos and see who could break the news first.
Keep up the fight, Pierre. We’re here to support you and your family all the way to recovery. If anyone has the will power to beat cancer, it’s you.