That's me, left, Eric Updegraff in the middle and James Martinez. In 1992 we won regional college awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. Eric was a news writer/editor and James a cartoonist. We all worked for the Daily Lobo, University of New Mexico's student paper in Albuquerque where I was a journalism major.

I dug up the picture after I got a message on Facebook from James' wife the other day. "Hey, James Martinez (Jimmy J) says Howdy." It was a shock. I had thought about him several times over the years and searched his name online but had not found anything.

James was a great cartoonist. I remember one that caused quite a stir during the first Gulf War. At the time the Army had an ad campaign with the slogan "Be All You Can Be". James drew a grave and headstone with the words "Be All You Can Be". Pro-war students and staff were outraged. But James stood his ground. He continued to produce daring cartoons.

I liked his candid, rebellious, anti-establishment character -- and great sense of humor -- and we became good friends. I will never forget our road trip to Denver to receive those  journalism awards. We were in the same hotel room for a night, which turned out to be one of the worst nights of my life. When James fell asleep, I took the telephone into the bathroom and called my girlfriend in Iran. We spoke every Friday. That night we had an argument and she said I should never call again.

The next day I was miserable. And nearly could have died. Not necessarily because of the break-up, but a huge snow storm during the drive back to Albuquerque in James' old van with no snow tires and no visibility. The road was covered in thick layer of snow. We thought we were going to be buried in the middle of the desert in the middle of the night. But we joked and laughed our way through the storm.

Few months later I moved to New York and we lost touch. I had not heard of him for more than 20 years before seeing his wife's message a few days ago. I wrote her back that I would contact him. I'll do it today. I'll send him this page. He'll get a kick out of it.