Thursday, 4 December 2008

Memories of Bob

Updated 11/05/08 re John Iaboni, Philadelphia Inquirer

Memories of Robert "Bob" Jelenic, former Toronto Sun general manager, who died Tuesday in Pennsylvania at age 58:

John Iaboni, former Toronto Sun sports writer: "I was very saddened to learn of Bob Jelenic's passing while watching the Leafs-Coyotes game Thursday night. Leafs play-by-play man Joe Bowen, a childhood friend of Bob's from their days in Sudbury, made the announcement, offering condolences to his family and briefly mentioning their connection and Bob's impact on the Sun. Bob was a terrific guy - hard worker, dedicated, knowledgeable, forthright - and a real sports fan. He was an excellent athlete and as I look back on my years at the Sun, I'd put Bob right up there with the likes of Dick Shatto and Les Pyette as among the best "athletes" to represent the Sun at softball and hockey events. Bob used to enjoy coming down to our sports department, or get on the phone to talk sports. In fact, Bob and I established the first 'hockey pool' at the Sun. Each year, our small group would draft a lineup and then either Bob or I would do the weekly tally sheets by hand. The first year we did this, I remember winning the pool by an incredible landslide - much to Bob's chagrin. All my 'insider' info as the guy on the hockey beat paid off then, but the ever competitive Bob found a way to narrow the gap and challenge for leadership in the years that followed. His constant enthusiasm and ever-present smile are other aspects I remember about him. Regrettably, when he headed to the U.S. and I left the Sun, we lost touch. But no one can ever break apart the memories we have of our Sun Family. So, since Joe Bowen mentioned it, I've had occasion to read up on what others from our Sun Family remember about Bob and to offer some of my thoughts. I know he's already organizing some kind of sporting pool because this guy always knew the score."

Philadelphia Inquirer story:

Len Fortune, former Toronto Sun graphics chief: "That is horrific. Bob wasn't that old. I know Trudy Eagan would have great memories of Bob. Both Bob and Trudy oversaw the budget of my department in the late '70s and early '80s. Bob had it all: A great athlete, good looks and a sharp mind. He also had a unique sense of humour. During one of my budgets, I made a desperate plea for one of my guys, who in my estimation was grossly underpaid. I guess my presentation "for the pauper" was over the top and Bob granted an exceptional increase for the guy, but in doing so, said the money would come out the Sun's "charity" file. It was a good laugh for everyone at the table and a happy conclusion to the usually mundane budget reviews."

Andy Donato, Toronto Sun cartoonist: "He was the toughest guy at the Sun when it came to getting money."

Hugh Wesley, former Toronto Sun photographer/photo editor: "I remember when he first started at the Sun he drove a green jacked-up Cougar (leaf springs exposed at the back) , with fat wide oval rear tires on over-sized chrome reversed wheels. And he wore cowboy boots. Didn't seem like the typical bean counter type."

John Paton, former Toronto and Ottawa Suns staffer: "I was such a junior at TorSun when Bob was controller that most of my memories are about being scared of him. I got to know him here in the U.S. He was a smart and tough operator."

Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun associate editor: "I'm sorry to say while I knew Bob casually, I wouldn't be able to do justice to memorializing him. I just remember him as a very pleasant, bright, dynamic, guy. I'm sorry to hear of his death and my condolences to his family and friends."

An online posting by Matt DeRienzo, interim publisher of the the Register Citizen.

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