Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

1971 & RIP To A Journalism Giant (#247)

1971 was the most memorable year of my life. I’d taken a year off after high school graduation to make some money and travel. Spent several months hitchhiking around Europe. Celebrated my 20th birthday sitting on a cold, rainy, sandflea-infested beach in western Scotland, shaking with fever and trying to stay dry while holding a pathetic little piece of plastic over my head.

 It was a time of meeting people from around the world, visiting historic sites and generally expanding my horizons.

In the fall of that year, I started my first year of University in London, Ontario, in order to study Journalism. Also in the fall of that year, the storied newspaper, the Toronto Telegram, folded. As a media junkie, this was huge news. Delivering the “Tely” was my first job as an 11-year-old and I mourned its passing. I hated the thought of the Toronto area being stuck with the fat-cat newspaper, The Star.

Luckily, from the ashes of the Tely sprung a feisty tabloid, the Toronto Sun. Within 48 hours of the last Tely hitting the street, the first issue of the Sun did likewise. It was the brain-child of Doug Creighton, Don Hunt and editor-in-chief, Peter Worthington.

I had two Journalistic heroes in those days. One was the great Hunter S. Thompson, the man who put gonzo into Journalism, shattering the stereotype of the blandly objective reporter.

The other was Peter Worthington. I’ll not detail his career. (I'll let him do it below.) But he did it all, saw it all and reported it all. He was courageous, joining the Canadian Navy at 17 to take part in WWII. As an officer, he lead troops in the North Korean conflict. Later, as a reporter, he filed stories from most war zones around the world. When Lee Harvey Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby, Peter was there, just feet away.

His relationship with the Sun was stormy. He probably quit or was fired umpteen times and returned to work the following day. Eventually, he left the paper only to return as a contributing writer some years later.

I loved the columns he wrote about his life-long love affair with Jack Russell Terriers. Having bonded with my own JRT the past half-dozen years, I understand better his fascination with them. They’re much like Worthington himself - curious, intelligent and amazingly stubborn.

Well, you know where this is going. Peter Worthington died Monday night at the age of 86. It’s difficult to be sad about a person living a long, full life and then passing quietly.

But I am sad. I’ll miss his wry humour and wisdom.

Today, 1971 seems like a very long time ago.

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Leave it to Worthington to write his own obituary. I hope you'll take the time to check it out. It's a heckuva lot more interesting than what I wrote.

10 comments:

Leah J. Utas said...

Another great one down. Good post, Frank.

Hilary said...

A fine tribute, my dear.

Red said...

Well, said. I remember Worthington but because I wasn't into reporters and reporting I didn't get his character. I just listened to the report.

Tabor said...

I was not familiar with Canadian journalists, but this is nice attribute and brings to light someone that many of us missed. Journalists are a singular crowd...if that makes sense.

Gayle said...

This is a fine tribute. I am so sorry for your loss.
This is a good time to reread "Goodbye, Grandma" from Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I am reading it today, a good friend left us, too.

Holding good thoughts for you.

Ruth Cooke said...

I never really admired Peter Worthington or his politics, but after reading his obituary, I understand him a little better, and have nothing but admiration for the way he reached out and grabbed life. May he rest in peace.

messymimi said...

My condolences on the passing of your hero. No matter how long we have the ones we love or admire, it's not long enough.

Dawn Colclasure said...

What a very nice post, Frank. And I appreciate the link to his own obit.

Frank Baron said...

- Thanks, Leah.

- Thanks, Hil.

- Thank you, Red.

- The old reporters certainly are a rare breed, Tabor.

- Thank you, Gayle.

- Ruth, he certainly lived live with gusto. We could all take a page from that.

- Thanks, Mimi. Too true.

- Thanks, Dawn. Glad you checked it out.

Thanks to all for taking the time to visit and comment.

Dental said...

Thank for good article "A Journalism Giant"