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Columnists Dennis Roddy
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Closing in on 30 years in the newspaper business, Dennis B. Roddy now knows the value of clarity. The day he won a prestigious award, his telephone rang. It was a little girl named Melissa who explained that she'd been given a school assignment: read an article in the newspaper and write about it.

"I read your column," she said. "Can you tell me what it was about?"

Usually, though, people know what Roddy's columns are about.

Sometimes they're about the fun of attending a plea hearing for the wife of a fugitive judge who returned to America to settle charges in the very courtroom where her husband once presided. Sometimes it's a look inside the life of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court that got national attention. Sometimes it's the tale of a retired moonshiner who explained why his whiskey was so good: he occasionally cleaned the still.

Since beginning his column, Roddy has landed a fistful of awards, being named top columnist in the nation by the Scripps Howard Foundation in 2000, top humor columnist by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and three times by the Western Pennsylvania Press Club.

In 1996, Roddy's column on national politics was syndicated by the Scripps Howard News Service and carried, more or less, in more than a dozen papers around the country. He gained particular notice of one reader of the Stuart News in Stuart, Fla., who wrote in to complain about him, adding:

"And by the way, who the hell is Dennis Roddy? I never heard of him."

Dennis Brian Patrick Martin Roddy was born in Johnstown in 1954 and promptly tripped over his strangely long name. He attended the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, got fired from a job at the local television station, worked for a chain of weekly newspapers, got washed downriver in the Johnstown Flood of 1977 and, eventually, surfaced in Pittsburgh. After a stint as the political reporter for the late Pittsburgh Press, Roddy, as he puts it, was "bought with the furniture" when the Post-Gazette moved in and quickly became a newsroom fixture, disrupting staff meetings, annoying editors and terrorizing the copy desk. At any given time, half the staff isnít speaking to him and the other half is trying to get back money he borrowed.

He is married to Joyce Gannon, a business writer for the Post-Gazette, and is the father of four children with unpronounceable Gaelic names.

Dennis can be found in the Saturday Region section. His "Homefront" column, which looks at life in the United States since the September 11 attacks, is published Wednesdays and Sundays.

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