Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Paul Heming -15

Updated 2/10/08

Thursday, Sept. 30, 1993

It was another day in the Toronto Sun newsroom until Ed Monteith, the managing editor, began talking about Paul Heming, a copy desk editor with a passion for clever headlines and baseball.

Ed's discussion at city desk didn't register at first, but it soon became clear the news was not good. Paul had been found dead at his Simpson Avenue home earlier in the day. His big, lovable and generous heart had failed him at 53.

A day earlier, Paul and like-minded Blue Jays fans had chatted about the Jays and their chances of repeating their 1992 World Series win, a major high for the tabloid and Jays fans.

Paul worked most nights on the rim, along with an enviable copy desk crew over the years that included Lew Fournier, Darren McGee, Tim Fryer, Lloyd Kemp, Rick VanSickle, Howard MacGregor, Luke Betts, Rob Paynter, Kathy Vey, Alan Parker, Mike Patton, Kaarina Leinala, Dave Rawlins, John Fracassi and the news desk posse leader, Sandra Macklin.

What a team - the Jays, as well as the rim. (Lew and Kaarina are the last of that copy desk crew, still working their nightly magic.)

Not wanting to miss any Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth play-by-plays of the Jays' home games, Paul bought himself a small used radio and taped his name to it.

That little radio and Paul's desk were left untouched after his funeral out of respect for the masterful wordsmith. Nobody felt comfortable claiming his turf.

A small group of colleagues hatched a scheme to spread Paul's ashes on the field at the SkyDome, but that plan grounded out when the word got out. It seems players from the Islands would have refused to play there for religious reasons

Sandra Macklin, longtime friend and baseball buddy, took his ashes home to wait for the right moment and the right ball diamond. She is still waiting for the perfect field.

"Paul was the backbone of our news desk, the hardest worker, the most dependable," Sandra said in 1993.

The kid from Guelph left us 15 years ago today, but we can still feel his energy and his passion for the news business.

Paul, along with Ben Grant, another copy desk legend who died young, are not forgotten. Awards in their names are awarded annually by Ryerson.

The Toronto Sun has had its share of premature deaths since the tabloid was launched in 1971. Sometimes, when you take count, the ratio seems higher than average.

The important thing is that they all be remembered.

Paul remembered his Toronto Sun Family colleagues, leaving $1,000 in his will for a wake.

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