I’m sitting alone at Blueberry Hill, a Las Vegas coffee shop where I shared many meals with my late friend Barry Holthaus.
It’s the wee hours of a Monday morning and I’m reeling from the stunning news first delivered by Matt Youmans, sports betting columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Matt called Sunday night during the Ravens-Steelers game and I still hear his words some eight hours later:
“I’m very sorry to be the one to pass along this news, John. But Barry Holthaus was found dead in his apartment by Las Vegas police last night.”
I immediately went numb.
Flashback: I lost my only brother 25 years ago in a motorcycle accident.
Though I never expressed my feelings toward Barry and never fully thought about it until now, I always treated Barry as a surrogate brother.
Words cannot describe the deep sorrow and empty feelings of losing a trusted friend, talented colleague and truly superior person.
News of Barry’s sudden death ripped through the Las Vegas sports betting fraternity, shocking those who knew the friendly 47-year-old Indiana native.
According to a spokesperson at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the cause and manner of death are currently under investigation.
Barry Holthaus was an accomplished golfer during his high school days in Fort Wayne, a trained accountant in his collegiate experience at Indiana University and a respected sports analyst since arriving here in Las Vegas in the summer of 1998.
He was a handicapper with Peter Gold’s Vegas Insider group for a couple of years and served as a guest columnist one football season for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was heard on various sports radio shows in the Las Vegas Valley including The Stardust Line and The Las Vegas Sportsline.
Most of all, Barry was an honorable gentleman who — if the initial reports are true — met an untimely death in a dangerous city filled with desperate people performing desperate acts.
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