He put the "greg" in gregarious.
Gregory Francis Cupp loved to talk. His wife of 35 years, Theresa Cupp, called it "the gift of gab."
He’d talk to you about the St. Louis Cardinals, the way-back days of journalism, Civil War history in Missouri, how Keith Richards has managed to stay alive. If you let him have the floor, he’d talk to you.
"He was one of a kind," Theresa Cupp said. "He broke the mold."
Mr. Cupp, 54, died Thursday at his home in Columbia. He was born May 11, 1963, in St. Louis.
Mr. Cupp and his wife were high school sweethearts; they met as sophomores in Fort Worth, Texas, and married in August 1982, while Mr. Cupp was studying journalism at the University of Texas at Arlington. After a nearly 10-year stretch in Wichita Falls, Texas, the Cupps moved to Columbia with two children in tow.
Mr. Cupp worked at the Columbia Daily Tribune for more than 20 years, primarily as the paper’s wire editor.
"Greg never complained . . . He was steady, he was dependable," said Jim Robertson, the managing editor of the Tribune during Mr. Cupp’s tenure.
Amid his editing and layout duties, Mr. Cupp embraced another role: a newsroom comedian, for which his compensation was laughter.
"He had a kind heart and a wicked sense of humor — and he liked to wield it," said Chip Price, a friend and longtime colleague of Mr. Cupp.
At the helm of the mock "Christmas edition" of the Tribune, Mr. Cupp dedicated the annual four pages of column space to good-natured gibing. Price said Mr. Cupp was an equal-opportunity roaster.
"In those (Christmas) issues, he made a point about having something about everyone in the newsroom; he was inclusive," Price said. "He was fairly biting, which made it fun."
When the previous owners of the Tribune had to give a speech, they sometimes asked Mr. Cupp to write their jokes for them. His was a boundless cache of comedy.
"He was particularly good at impressions — not of famous people, but of local people and people in the newsroom," Price said.
One year, Mr. Cupp’s colleague, humor columnist Irene Haskins, wrote a scathing critique of fruitcake, Robertson said. That Christmas, she received a fruitcake as a gift, only for it to mysteriously disappear soon after. Over the next 15 years, the same fruitcake would make a brief appearance on her desk and then vanish once more.
"By the time she died, it was just a brick — fossilized and solidified," Robertson said. "Greg engineered that."
As the years went by, Mr. Cupp mentored new journalists, waxing nostalgic about newsrooms of a bygone era.
"I think over time he took on a bit of a paternal role to some of the younger reporters. Just conveying all of the old-school journalistic knowledge," Price said. "He liked to talk about how journalism used to be and how newsrooms used to be."
When Mr. Cupp wasn’t editing, he loved to spend time with his family and help his friends when they needed it, whether it was to write their jokes or to let them borrow his truck.
"At the heart of it, he was a good person," Price said. “He was warm-hearted and generous, and he had a great sense of humor."
Mr. Cupp was diagnosed with kidney cancer in August 2014 and remained at the Tribune until September 2017.
"Even on his worst days, he still had a sense of humor," Theresa Cupp said.