Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sad news of another passing. Bowen has many famous residents, regionally and internationally, but one that was loved by all was the sportswriter Jim Kearny. Jim died this weekend, and Peter King, our bus driving all-rounder wrote a lovely, personal story of spending time with Jim over the years. Here it is reprinted in full, from the Bowen online forum:

BC lost a giant in the sports media field this past week with the passing of Jim Kearney. I lost a very dear close friend. I always enjoyed getting that phone call every other day to take him and wife Patty around to the post office, the pharnacy or down to the ferry. It was always " Kearney here" on the phone and it did not matter if I was on the Eagle Cliff run or the Bluewater run, Jim and Patty had a bus in front of their house. To drive and listen to Jim and Jen Wheatley rattle off batting averages and goals against was poetry. How he remembered it all I will never know. Same holds true for Jen.

Jim was an encyclopedia of sports and world history. I remember reading his column in the paper when I was a kid and that was a long time ago. To hear him talk about the Canucks, the Lions or the Whitecaps it was pure sports. At a time where sports reporting is more of the business of sports, what with binding arbitration, salary caps and salaries in the millions, Jim was from the old school. His type of reporting is greatly missed these days.

When I found out that he was in Evergreen Extended Care at Lions Gate, I visited him as soon as I could. It is a nice facility but Jim was bored to tears. Just as lunch was being served he asked me if I could contact a few of his friends and associates to visit him. Putting pen to paper I was compiling a list of the who's who in sports and media. First on the list was Pat Quinn, then Bob Ackles, Jim Taylor, Ted Reynolds, Bob Lennarduzzi, Bob Costas, Jim Pattison........ Needless to say it was a challenge but I was able to contact everyone except Bob Costas. At the mention of Jim's name and the reason I was calling, it was like I was talking to an old friend, not someone I would hear talked about on the radio or written up in the paper.

Jim Taylor, a fellow sports journalist talked for half an hour not only about the two of them reporting on sports for the past 50 years but also about the personal side of Jim. Jim was truely a class act.

I thanked Jim for giving me this gift of contacting his friends as I don't think I would have any reason at all to call Pat Quinn or Bob Ackles at home and have a chat. Not exactly in my calling circle. It also showed me how one person can make a difference and have such an possitive impact on others

In talking with Jim about local sports, he took a particular interest in the BC Lions. I contacted the BC Lions Jamie Taras who arranged for Jim to attend the Wall of Fame banquet with his daughter and see the Lions take on the Blue Bombers. It turned out to also include the Tribute to the late Bob Ackles. Having lost my mom last year, this game was also a good father/son evening for me as my dad not only enjoyed football but he also had met with Jim during his move to West Van. Jim was in a wheelchair at Evergreen so what better opportunity to practice using the wheelchair lift on the bus.

We arrived at Evergreen with Jim and his two daughters at his side. He looked sharp, what with his sports jacket, cap and black framed Raybands. After some confusion around having the accessible entrance locked at the dome, Jim and his daughter enjoyed the banquet where new inductees were introduced and oldtime Lions stalked the buffet tables. Hats off to the Lion's staff who assisted him at the banquet and in getting him to the accessible area to watch the game. It was a win for the Lions but for three quarters it was a bit of a sleeper. That didn't matter as Jim had already had a full evening of seeing all
of the old timers of Lions teams of the 60's and 70's. It was an evening we both will never forget.

I will miss Jim, his whit, his stories and his advice. Its true, they don't make them like they used to. I will heed his advice in that one has to work to live not live to work. Driving by the house in Deep Bay just won't be the same again. My heart goes out to his family. BC has lost a giant, Bowen has lost a true gentleman and I have lost a dear old friend.