TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — A memorial service was held Wednesday to honor Cecil Hurt, the longtime sports columnist for The Tuscaloosa News.

The service was held at Christ Episcopal Church in downtown Tuscaloosa. Among those in attendance were University of Alabama Athletics Director Greg Byrne and ESPN analyst Paul Finebaum.

“I think Cecil should be remembered as the most influential and the important journalist who ever covered the University of Alabama,” said Finebaum, who had had Hurt on his radio show many times over the years. “He was a confidant of every coach, including Nick Saban, and that’s unique.”

Hurt started at the News in 1982 and covered Alabama football, basketball, and many other sports for nearly four decades. He died Nov. 23 from pnuemonia complications and other underlying health issues. He was 62.