Steve Landwehr

Talk about a bittersweet moment.

On Wednesday, the Salem News reported that longtime staff writer Steve Landwehr had died after a brief, intense battle with cancer. Today, the News informs us that the paper has won a major-investigative reporting award recognizing Landwehr’s work.

Landwehr was best-known for a Monday feature called “Lives,” extended obituaries about ordinary and extraordinary people on the North Shore. Characterized by Landwehr’s deep reporting and sensitive but never mawkish writing, the stories were, News publisher Karen Andreas is quoted as saying, “one of the most well-read columns in our paper.” This July 12 piece, on Salem High School football legend Joseph “Pep” Cornacchio, was among the last stories Landwehr wrote.

The investigative-reporting prize — the Thomas K. Brindley Award for public-service journalism — was for work performed mainly by Landwehr and News reporter Chris Cassidy on the Essex Regional Retirement Board and its former executive director, Timothy Bassett. Landwehr and Cassidy exposed corruption involving violations of the open-meeting law, questionable legal fees and cronyism, leading to Bassett’s resignation.

Landwehr was 61 years old. I didn’t know him, but I valued his work. He will be missed.

More: The Salem News’ editorial on Landwehr.