Thursday, 2 June 2011

Memories of Lloyd

Updated 24/6/11

Nancy Stewart, one of our favourite 333 vets, writes: Lloyd Finley was one of the most interesting and entertaining sports desk guys we had ever encountered. Our Composing Room Department worked closely with him and he kept us in stitches with his hilarious stories and witty comments on the world's events. He was a joy to work with. One day he walked into our department wearing an over-sized WWI helmet and proclaimed excitedly, "Over the top, boys!" Only one of the many memorable moments we will hold dear from our great friend Lloyd. We will all miss him. 

Andy Balfour writes: I really loved working with Lloyd Finley. He always could put a smile on my face and have the evening workload go by so quickly when we would tell some of his stories.

My condolences to the Finley family. 

Randy Miller writes: Lloyd Finley was one of the best editors I had worked with at The Sun.

His sense of humour and his ability to make you feel an intimate part of his view on various subjects made the work of the evening go more pleasant.

Lloyd endeared himself to the whole production department and the lost, knowing him, is like losing a dear friend. 

John Iaboni, a Toronto Sun Day Oner who shared the tabloid's sports desk with the late Tely and Sun vet Lloyd Finley, writes:

Funny how things go in life. Just recently I was thinking about Lloyd Finley, wondering where he was and what he was up to because he was such a gentle man who helped me so much at the outset of my career in journalism at The Telegram before further influencing me at The Sun. 

On top of that, he ended what could have been a tragic event in Mississauga with an unforgettable tag line, which will be explained further in this recollection.

So tonight I learned through TSF of Lloyd’s passing, sad news made even sadder to learn that he dealt with a ravaging battle with dementia because his sharp mind is what stands out most about this little man who was a giant in his own right. 

Lloyd was a terrific desk guy with an awesome sense of humour. He covered the trots and in his writings he always exhibited a remarkable wit, something he always found a way to incorporate into those witty headlines.

Lloyd also believed in letting a writer be himself or herself. He cleaned things up nicely, but he never, ever, to my recollection, rewrote anyone’s copy because he allowed a writer to express oneself whether he agreed with the viewpoint or not.

As I remember, Lloyd was one of those individuals who couldn’t take a chance on the birth of The Sun because he put his family first when The Tely folded. He needed the safe haven of something concrete - and not a dream that could or could not have survived, so he accepted work elsewhere, in public relations if memory serves me correctly, only to return to the fold at some point early in The Sun years.

The tally sheet had him with 34 years in the business – 17 at The Tely and 17 at The Sun.

One of Lloyd’s greatest contributions in journalism had nothing to do with sports editing or sports writing but rather showing his flair for being able to handle a news story with dignity, facts and wit, proving sports writers could rise to the task with the best of them.

It occurred on October 2, 1978 when a fire at the Texaco Refinery in Port Credit prompted the evacuation of more than 1,000 - and produced some spectacular photos. 

You have to put yourself into the context of that time, which unlike today when news of it would go viral with umpteen photos and reports both from media and “would-be media”, Lloyd stepped in to provide the riveting eyewitness account.

As we all immersed ourselves into learning as much as possible, Lloyd became our eyes and ears, offering The Sun a terrific perspective from a veteran journalist who also happened to live in the vicinity of the fire, so no one could outdo him in the account from those “hinterland” days way out there in “Mississauga”.

Although we would later learn that the tragedy was the result of arson, it was a scary time as residents nervously watched firefighters from Mississauga, Texaco and Toronto International Airport take hours to bring the blaze under control.

During this era, the Texaco slogan played off its long-standing campaign of “that’s why you can trust your car to the man who wears the Star.” So “Trust Texaco” was ingrained in the minds of consumers.

Please forgive me if time has tainted my exact remembrance, but I seem to recall Lloyd ending his piece of watching his community up in flames by writing “that’s why I’ll never trust Texaco again.” 

He wrote from the heart, divulging what hit him at that moment  . . . always witty and a great turn of phrase . . . that was Lloyd. To know that mind was deprived from him and for his immediate family in the final stages truly is unfair. 

Rest in peace dear friend … and Fin, thanks for everything, I knew I could always trust in you.

Memories of Lloyd Charles Finley can be emailed to TSF.

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