Scene in Passing: Here’s wondering if he was a veteran, too |

Scene in Passing: Here’s wondering if he was a veteran, too

John Barrette

My heroes have always been columnists.

This was to be a column on the cusp of Memorial Day lauding veterans, which would be deserved and appropriate, but a telephone call to the Nevada Appeal from a subscriber who loves reading reminded me you can memorialize those who served in various capacities. The female caller, who asked to remain unmentioned in the Appeal, waxed eloquent about Christy “Chris” Schaller. At one time, he was a columnist here.

Come to find out by subsequent digging his bust, shown here, is in the Nevada State Capitol building just inside the front door. Schaller, who lived from 1935-1984, was memorialized under his likeness with these words: “Chris Schaller was a journalist, public servant and humanitarian who served with distinction on the staffs of Nevada Governors (Grant) Sawyer. (Mike) O’Callaghan and (Robert) List, and United States Senator (Alan) Bible.”

Further digging determined Schaller enjoyed a following as a columnist at the Appeal back in the day.

“He was very popular, and well read,” said Barry Smith, executive director of the Nevada Press Association. Smith also is a former Nevada Appeal editor, albeit well after Schaller’s tenure here.

My heroes have always been columnists rather than cowboys. Cowboys can keep their counsel, staying taciturn as the old west mythology dictates, but columnists must risk putting platitudes into print, trying to pass them off as wisdom. My favorite columnist, H.L. Mencken, had these things to say on such subjects:

“Platitude: an idea (a) that is admitted to be true by everyone and (b) that is not true,” and, “The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.”

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at