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Foresst Cassidy visiting QE2 in which he has taken several trips. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News archives

Dubai: Forrest Cassidy, Gulf News’ much-loved and respected former stone editor, passed away in Dubai at the age of 78 on Friday.

The American journalist previously worked for Kayhan newspaper in Tehran but moved to Dubai after the Iranian Revolution and joined Gulf News as a sub editor on the business desk in 1980, later becoming a senior sub-editor, night editor.

His last designation was stone editor, the person who passes the page before it is sent to print.

He worked tirelessly at Gulf News for 39 years up until a short illness diagnosed in July 2019 from which he succumbed on October 25.

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Gulf News archives

Abdul Hamid Ahmad, Editor in Chief of Gulf News and Executive Director of Publications, said, “Forrest has been a part of Gulf News history. He was a real warrior when it came to true journalism. I have never in all my time in newspapers seen anyone like him.

"He dedicated his time to work out of his love for journalism. He’s been a pillar in our newsroom who would not let any error or mistake go to print. To do that he felt full responsibility and so didn’t mind working seven days a week. He was a lovable person and friendly to all. For me he was a friend whom I never hesitated, while walking past his desk, to ask for biscuits or nuts which he always kept in his drawer. We are truly indebted to his contribution.”

Mohammed Almezel, Gulf News managing editor, said: “Forrest was very dear to all of us in the newsroom. He was there when it all started; he was there for four decades to witness and contribute to the amazing growth and evolution of Gulf News.

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Forrest Cassidy visiting the QE2 in Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani / Gulf News

“He was a dedicated and key member of the editorial team and worked very hard to ensure the consistency of the quality and integrity of the content.

"He was unique in many ways; he never took a day off; he felt he was at home in Gulf News. I was driving him to the hospital that night in July, sadly for the last time, when he and I agreed that he should start taking more days off. He will be missed greatly.”

Chief Translator Khitam Al Amir looked after Forrest when he got sick and even took him in to live with her family.

“I’ve lost not just a colleague, but also a friend, a big brother, and a person who I really got close to,” she said.

Head of archives Abdul Kareem remembered the day Forrest joined the paper.

“He asked me to help him take his personal belongings to his new flat in Golden Sands, but only had three suitcases,” said Abdul Kareem.

“He was a hard worker, never took off and his only sick leave was when he fell ill in July. Despite this dedication to work, he did allow himself an annual cruise, and those trips on ocean liners became his real passion.”

Gulf News took Forrest back to the QE2 on its 50th anniversary in May, just two months before he got sick.

Room, 8209 on QE2

A veteran of 15 cruises on board the iconic ocean liner between 1979 and 2004, he hadn’t been back on board since, despite it being permanently docked in Dubai since 2008.

During his tour he was even able to find his old cabin, room 8209.

An eclectic taste in music, cinema, floral print paisley shirts and Persian carpets, also defined Forrest.

Gulf News’ features writer Malavika Kamaraju, a long-time colleague and friend, said: “Forrest was a man who had little patience for factual inaccuracies and his withering critiques were as toe-curling as they were a source of hilarity.

“That provides a clue to the persona of this taskmaster. He could be as tough as he was endearing. Vastly knowledgeable and unfailing in his commitment to accuracy and economy of copy," said Kamaraju.

“He could rile you with his sarcasm as much as he lent himself to being riled and the daily dose of camaraderie and laughter that he offered to all his colleagues is a signature gift, priceless, to be always treasured.”

The newsroom once echoed with the warbled cry of "Forrest!" once a page was ready to be reviewed by his unflinching eye for detail, but sadly that cry is no more.