Chron columnist Jon Carroll, upon winning the Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, was concerned about his health. “… [L]ifetime achievement awards do seem to come to people who have terminal illnesses,” Carroll said. “But I had a physical a month ago, and I’m fine.”

Chronicle columnist Herb Caen was the first to receive the award in 1993, and subsequent winners have included Molly Ivins, Steve Lopez, Pete Hamill, Art Buchwald and Art Hoppe. The following is from the Chron story announcing the honor:

    Carroll said writing a column has been all he wanted to do since he was a 12-year-old reading short, funny stories in the New Yorker.

    In an era of metastasizing opinion online, Carroll said he still believes in the value of newspaper columnists.

    “Today, I wrote about kittens,” he said. “We’re in a gigantic financial crisis, everybody knows it, everybody is going crazy about it, everybody else is writing about it, so sometimes the best thing to do is write about kittens.

    “I swear to you, there is a segment of readers out there who, when they read a kitten column, they feel good all day. And that ain’t bad, you know.”

(Photo credit: Mike Kepka, Chron)

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