Mark Haines: Bertha Coombs Remembers

I remember before coming to CNBC, a frequent Squawk Box guest host telling me just how cantankerous Mark Haines could be.

As a viewer then, it didn't surprise me.

At times I felt sorry for the CEO who'd get a grilling from the imposing big man trained as a lawyer. But as viewers, more often than not, we'd all cheer because Mark asked the right questions. And because it didn't come from a place of hubris.

As his colleague, what I appreciated most when I watched Mark during those interviews is that he never really made those moments about himself. He was like our prosecutor trying to get at the heart of the matter.

I think viewers respected that fundamental honesty.

This is a guy who didn't put on airs. He came to work in ratty sweatpants and god-awful bright-colored Crocs. He didn't suffer fools, but at the end of the day he really was always fair. And that is what put him head and shoulders above so many of us in this business.

In Memoriam: Mark Haines
In Memoriam: Mark Haines

And while Mark could give it, he could also take it. Early on at CNBC, I greeted him in the hall after he'd come off the set. He cheerily answered back, "How are you, Sharon?" I replied I didn't know, but I would ask her when I saw her next. He smirked.

Ever since, he always greeted me with a booming, "Bertha!" And I can tell you, he was great fun during the commercial breaks before we'd appear together on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. He was great lover of show tunes — something we shared.

I will miss the big man. We in the CNBC family, and I include our viewers, have truly lost a big part of our family.

Bertha Coombs is a general assignment reporter for CNBC, covering financial markets and business news stories throughout the business day.