Friday, 12 September 2008

Nick Ibscher 2

Updated 17/09/08 re Joel Colomby, Frankie Thornhill

A celebration of life for Nick Ibscher will be held Sept. 27 at the Toronto home of Noreen Rosbach of the Globe and Mail.

You can RSVP Noreen for the 1 p.m. wine and cheese gathering by e-mail at

And Jan Murphy, news editor at the Kingston Whig-Standard, says friends and former colleagues played a round of golf in his honour in Kingston."

Nick, a 1970s Ryerson journalism student, worked at Canadian Press in Toronto before hired by the Toronto Sun in the mid 1980s. He made a detour to the Toronto Star in the late 1990s, for about a year, then worked at the Kingston Whig-Standard from 2000 to 2005 and joined the Calgary Herald in 2006.

Always friendly on the job, always professional.

(Our thanks to Sandra Macklin, a friend of Nick's since their Ryerson years, for the photo, taken at the SkyDome during a Jays 1992 World Series game.)

More memories of Nick;

Frankie Thornhill, Calgary Herald: "Happily, Nick's kitties are learning the joys of outdoor life and how to get along with two dogs and one or two other cats at Nick's sister's in Ontario.

"I also golfed often with Nick and his enthusiasm for life was infectious. I miss him."

Joel Colomby, veteran Toronto Sun sports department staffer: "Like everyone who knew him, I was stunned to hear this tragic news.

"My fondest recollections of Nick go back to our days at Ryerson in the early 1970s, when we were the 1-2 punch on the Journalism 30s intramural ball hockey team. Don't laugh. Ball hockey was a huge deal at Rye back then with more than 30 teams competing.

"Nick owned the league's most fearsome slapshot. He used a slightly worn-down Blaine Stoughton Sherwood that, to this day I maintain, is the nicest hockey stick I've ever held in my hands. Nick's shot was not only hard, but he could make that red rubber ball-hockey ball dip and curve when he let it go.

"The moment that will stick with me is a game in which we were tied with three seconds to go and a faceoff in our own end. I took the draw while Nick stood, stick already drawn back, beside our own net. I won the faceoff cleanly back to him and he one-timed it the length of the floor and into the net for the winning goal. Typically, it dipped under the goalie's glove at the last second.

"Another time, during a team practice, he rifled one of his patented blasts off the bare back of teammate Terry Bell (who was working out in Vancouver last time I checked) standing about 10 yards away. The welt is probably still there.

"Nick and I renewed our friendship when he joined the Sun and he and Sandra (Macklin) were part of our first fantasy baseball league in the 80s. Their team name fittingly was The Sandranickstas.

"That Nick. Always a way with words."

Tim Fryer, former veteran Sun news desk staffer, now at the Star: "I was sad to hear of Nick's death. I was talking with Nick earlier in the year and he seemed upbeat and confident that things would work out.

"I first met Nick in 1988 when I arrived at the Sun, sat down at a terminal, and was quickly kicked out of my chair by this crazed editor who bore a striking resemblance to Barry Manilow. He insisted on using my desk since he was working on G8 spreads and needed rapid access to the comp room.

"That was Nick, of course. Intense, passionate, one of those gifted maniacs that populate newsrooms.

"He was generous to a fault and incredibly funny. He also had a rarely seen touch of self-deprecation that belied his innate perfectionism. This, of course, allowed him to regale us in tales of the occasional foul-up.

"Newsroom screw-ups are the best. We've all had them, and their legends have kept bars in the Front Street newspaper loop in business for years. One of my all-time favorites featured Nick's handiwork.

"After a rather intense replate, our man came in the next day and was quickly motioned into one of the "pooh-bah's" offices, as he liked to call bosses. Of course he's thinking a pat on the back was forthcoming, especially for his stylish entertainment page remake for the Liza Minnelli concert.

"Much to his horror, there it was, the word mocking him at the end of Ed Monteith's pointing finger, in bold, 200 point, ignominious glory. With an exclamation mark no less: LISA!

"That was Nick, though. Go big or go home.

"Everything he did, he did intensely, including golf. I used to hit the links a lot with Howard MacGregor, Lloyd Kemp and Nick. Howard, of course, would offer unsolicited advice on your game despite having one of the worst swings any of us had ever seen.

"Lloyd just loved the game nearly as much as the news game itself. (As an aside, I still laugh when I think of Lloyd carrying his microwave out to the curb when we were picking him up to golf on a cold, October morning. He had attempted to warm his golf balls and, fortunately, wasn't watching closely when the explosion shattered the microwave window.)

"Nick, naturally, was the best of the bunch, despite starting the game late in his adult life. Like most things Nick put his mind to, it was pedal to the metal. And now, they're all gone.

"My newsrooms and golf courses will never be quite the same."

Jan Murphy, news editor at the Kingston Whig-Standard: "I worked with Nick Ibscher for five years, side by side, at the Kingston Whig-Standard.

"I was in my early 20s when Nick joined the Whig. Over the course of the five that followed, Nick taught me the importance of editing copy, how to write an interesting and accurate headline and the importance of our jobs as editors.

"More importantly, though, Nick and I became close friends. I came to appreciate Nick's ability to enjoy the simpler things in life and just how much he appreciated those things. Even after Nick left Kingston for Calgary, he would always phone with updates.

"When he became ill, the phone calls slowed, but never stopped completely.

"I'll always cherish my years with Nick and I'll never again write a headline that Nick isn't in some way responsible for.

"RIP Nick. Gone, but never forgotten."

Rob Lamberti, veteran Toronto Sun crime reporter: "What awful news. It's so sad to learn we lost Nick at such a young age. Nick was a solid copy editor, dependable and steady, but of course what remains engrained in my memory was a hilarious error.

"He had cut out the middle of a story I wrote to fit a small news hole but didn't check to see if the identities of the people I quoted remained intact. He kept the identity of a homicide detective but cut out his quotes and kept the quotes of a plumber. The plumber's quotes became attributed to the detective. I didn't realize until the detective called and asked me if I was demented and if I shouldn't take up a career in retail.

"Ah, the abuse reporters take for the sins of others.

"On behalf of the editorial and pre-press members of the Toronto Sun unit, we want to pass on our condolences to Nick's friends and family."

Len Fortune, former veteran Toronto Sun colour lab whiz: "Absolutely stunned by the news of Nick Ibscher's death, but I guess some of us are at that stage where many of our contemporaries are walking towards the light.

"Nick, as you know, was part of the most amazing and talented rim in Sun Media's short history and it's disconcerting that the better part of that rim has left us:

"Paul Heming, a lovable and saintly newsman, although he did love a Jameson as I do;

"Ben Grant, small in stature, but huge in heart and talent;

"Howard MacGregor, a first-rate editor who asked all the right questions;

"Lloyd Kemp, who joined the rim later in his career, a no-nonsense journalist;

"And Nick, who was gifted, but because of his nonchalant style, was often overlooked for deserved praise.

"The unflappable Sandra Macklin led this unique band of wordsmiths and, as you know, is still with us, hopefully for years to come."

Rick VanSickle, former Sun staffer, now city editor of the St. Catharines Standard: "I am so saddened to read about Nick Ibscher passing away. He was a brilliant, caring and principled editor, the last attribute contributing to one of my favourite Nick stories.

"Nick was the replate editor back in 1986 and spent most of his nights cleaning up the mistakes of the other copy editors. He took great glee in rewriting already rewritten wire stories and local stories.

"On one particular night, he decided he had had enough of the obligatory beauty queen pictures that were pretty much a must-run in those days. On that night, it was the Miss America pageant winner that he had to get in the paper on the replate.

"Nick decided he'd spice things up a bit. He chose the winner, all in her tears with her new tiara as she was announced the winner. Nick decided that an overlay would be appropriate under the circumstances with the words "Lighten up, you won!" in a thought bubble above her head. It ran for the entire replate.

"Les Pyette, editor-in-chief at the time, was not amused. Nick was booted off the replate shift. The rest of us laughed for years about that one."

Monica Zurowski, Calgary Herald colleague: "A couple of nights before his death, members of the Herald news desk - which was the area in which Nick worked - went to see him after work.

"The hospital opened up the cafeteria and moved Nick's bed into the cafeteria. Although Nick was weak, they had a memorable late-night visit, which gave many of his colleagues here some special lasting memories of Nick."

Paul Harvey, Calgary Herald colleague: "Nick started here in January 2006 and was still in our employ when he died.

"Before he came here, Nick promised to impress us with his professionalism and headline-writing skills. And that he did. He quickly set a new standard for quality heads.

"Nick loved to play golf with his desker buddies, and was always game to share a table of beer and pizza after work.

"Everyone here misses him."

Memories of Nick can be e-mailed to TSF.

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