Words from Greg’s wife, Valerie
Eulogy for GREG
Well! … from the many lovely messages sent to us directly, and left on Greg’s Obituary webpage, it’s obvious that his kindness, wisdom and integrity made a lasting impression on a lot of people … even though he liked to stay in the background and not be noticed.
Greg appeared to be laid back. He never aspired to leadership but he was a good listener and he asked a lot of questions, exploring all sides of every issue … and so he actually did lead, because his questions often prompted further thinking. (Journalism was the perfect career for him … journalists have to ask a lot of questions.)
Greg was an artist by nature, in that he was sensitive to all kinds of subtle things that many people miss. He was curious about the human condition and he explored it 1st-hand as well as through his wide-ranging reading of poetry, novels, religion, history, politics, science, biographies … and sports.
Several people referred to Greg as a gentle man … an old soul. It seems he approached life with an attitude of optimism and acceptance. He didn’t worry too much about the past or the future. He was practical and he stayed in the present … and he was present with me for more than 50 years as my best friend, my rock, unshakable.
Greg was quiet and strong; he was secure within himself and confident that no problem was too big to solve.
So, a bit of history:
So, at a young age, Greg became the man of the house. This was likely the environment where he developed a great respect for women, especially those with families to support, which wasn’t that common in the early 50s. Greg became a strong advocate for women and girls pursuing and achieving their goals.
Greg’s brother Dan remembers growing up in Kerrisdale in those early years when kids had free reign from morning ‘til night. They could walk all the way to Point Grey – and even down to the Fraser River — safely, with no supervision and no fear.
This youthful freedom, and the responsibility of being the eldest child in a single-parent family, no doubt shaped Greg’s character. He has always charted his own course and been strong-willed. (His mother described him as stubborn.) J
Many of you know Greg as a photographer …
He got his first camera, a Kodak Hawkeye, when he was 10, and a year later his mother, Pat, bought him an Ansco photo developing kit. … and ever since then, wherever he lived, Greg had his own black & white darkroom. Some of you have used it! His initial assignment from his mother was to take photos at the family parties. Greg, Dan and Carol had lots of aunts, uncles and cousins, and Greg’s photos document five generations and 60 years of these family gatherings.
Some of you know Greg as a sports nut …
He learned to play tennis with a heavy wooden racquet at the Vancouver Lawn Tennis Club where his mother had a membership so she could take her real estate clients to dinner. Greg fell in love with tennis … and then in high school, he also fell in love with basketball.
When Greg was 15, in grade 10, his mother Pat married Tony McIntyre, a widower with two sons, Johnny and Jimmy, who were the same ages as Dan and Carol. This has become known as the family merger. They were now a family with two parents and five kids: four boys and a girl all within a five-year age span. It was an exciting and popular household throughout their high school and university years with trips to Savary Island, parties, cars, romances …
Greg and I met through friends at UBC. He used to spend several hours a day in the old cafeteria, reading for his Anthropology and English Lit courses. I was captivated by his gentle nature, the insights he was drawing from his reading, his philosophical approach to life … and by his undeniable charm, of course … and his Buddy Holly glasses.
Greg always said that was when his real life began!
We got our first professional jobs in Kamloops: myself as a teacher and Greg as a newspaper photographer and reporter. He followed fire engines to get photos and he bashed out stories on an old typewriter … and earned $50 a week. We went from there to Prince George, where Greg worked at The Citizen for two and half years.
In 1972 Greg became the Edmonton legislative correspondent for the Lethbridge Herald. Peter Lougheed’s Progressive Conservatives had just overturned 36 years of Socred rule, and the political atmosphere was electric. Greg enjoyed the provincial press gallery, and interviewing MLAs about southern Alberta concerns. He wrote a 3-part series on Hutterites while we were there. And our first child, Sara, was born in Edmonton.
In ’73, Greg started work at the Calgary Herald – and transitioned from a typewriter to a computer. That was a big learning curve. We had six happy years in Calgary, getting involved in community social justice groups — and basketball — and making long-lasting friendships. And Jacob was born there.
In 1979 after the 9-month-long strike at Vancouver’s two daily papers, Greg got a desk job at The Province. It was time to bring the family back home to Vancouver … and this is where Emily was born.
Greg worked on the desk in the Business and Lifestyle sections, before going back on the street, i.e. reporting. He wrote a religion column and enjoyed interviewing priests, imams and rabbis. One of the hot topics at the time was female clergy. He also wrote an environment column for a while … until the environment became mainstream news.
Here’s a story from those days: Greg really enjoyed going on reporting assignments with the staff photographers. One night, he and a Province photographer were driving around and listening to the car’s police radio. There had just been a break & entry nearby, and the police had a description of the suspect. Well, Greg and the photographer spotted the guy and started following him, so when the police caught up, Greg and the photographer were right there. It was a fairly civil conversation with everyone talking on the sidewalk until the criminal quietly made a break for it. That’s when Greg shocked everyone by doing a flying leap and tackling the poor guy to the pavement. … When Greg returned to the newsroom later with bandaged knuckles, he was cheered as a hero … it seems the whole newsroom had been listening to the escapade on the police radio! (The family figured Greg had definitely been watching too much Monday night football!)
In 1984 the Province went tabloid: light, bright and trite … with Sex on the front page and Sports on the back. The owners’ goal was to carve out a new readership niche and eliminate competition. Needless to say, the serious journalists were very disheartened.
To give you some context: Greg’s career spanned two major trends in the newspaper industry: rapid technological change and corporate consolidation. News stories became more and more-often based on corporate media releases than on investigative reporting.
After several years of staff layoffs and the downward spiral in reporting standards, Greg opted for a desk job in Province Sports and he enjoyed the opportunity to focus on sports and call it work, until he retired in 2008.
In 1996 our family moved to WindSong, an intentional community in Langley where we’ve been for 22 years. In our governance structure, we make decisions by consensus, a system in which everyone’s voice counts. Greg was very involved in our community governance.
Greg anticipated, in retirement, joining all the political parties. He wanted to know what each one was doing about the complex issues we face. I think he hoped to cross-pollinate and raise awareness – and very subtly, of course — promote collaborative problem solving in government, like we do at WindSong.
Well, he was hugely disappointed to learn that none of the big three political parties wanted him as a member unless he promised not to join any of the others! So, he didn’t join any … their loss! He did, however, continue his involvement in public advocacy groups, making good use of his writing, editing and news-sense skills to assist organizations doing important work.
Greg thought of himself as a very lucky person and often declared that he had a wonderful life! We walked in our nearby regional forest, frequented live theatre, films, art galleries, public lectures, community meetings of all kinds … and basketball games at UBC and at the new Langley Events Centre.
In retirement Greg could read non-stop, play tennis 2 or 3 times a week with his good friends in the Walnut Grove seniors tennis group, do more photography, and spend more time with the family. He took a solo trip to Portugal where our daughter Emily lives and he did a solo road trip across Canada, taking great delight in sleeping many nights in the old ’92 Honda … independent, free.
Greg was a wonderful husband and father. When the kids were young, he took them biking, ice skating, BMX racing — and got Jacob started in snowboarding. He played tennis and basketball with them, he listened to their perspectives on the world … and he stayed calm when they drove his cars.
Greg was always there for us. Everyone needs a Greg in their life!
Greg’s legacy is evident in our kids, Sara, Jacob and Emily, who all demonstrate keen intelligence, sensitive observation, creative expression and the chop wood / carry water work ethic.
Greg’s legacy is also in the inspiration we’ve all gained by observing and interacting with him. We’re all changed by witnessing his generosity, his self-deprecating humour and his ability to be fully present with us. Whether communicating with dignitaries or people living on the street, Greg looked everyone in the eye, smiled and asked them how their day was going … and he was genuinely interested in their responses. He enjoyed connecting with people.
… and he’s still here connecting with us today. His body gave out, but I believe that consciousness and love are eternal. So, we’re still in touch. Greg and I are negotiating our new relationship. 🙂