Saturday, 23 July 2011

30 - Brian Vallee

Brian Vallee

Brian Vallee, who died from cancer Friday morning, was many things to many people in his 70 years.

He was a good guy, a friend to many.

A poker player.

Press club pianist (of sorts).

And, as longtime friend Ron Base told the Windsor Star, one heck of a story teller.

He told those well-researched and award-winning stories in the  
Windsor Star, Toronto Sun, Toronto Star, CBC's The Fifth Estate and in best-selling books, including Life With Billy.

One of the happiest nights of Brian's eventful life was Oscars night in 1983 when his name was mentioned on stage by winning documentary director John Zaritsky. Brian was associate producer of The Fifth Estate's Oscar-winning Just Another Missing Kid. 

Not bad for a kid from the Soo. 

Brian's stay at the Toronto Sun in the 1970s, as one of the Windsor Mafia, was relatively short, but he remained a Toronto Sun Family member to the core.

(The Windsor Mafia consisted of Sun staffers called up from the Windsor Star in the 1970s and included Base, Les Pyette, Mark Bonokoski, Bruce Blackadar, Lloyd Kemp, Cam Norton, Greg Parent, Ben Grant etc.)

When current and former Sun employees met in 2006 for a Save Our Sun reunion to voice concerns about the direction Quebecor was taking the tabloid, Brian was there.

Most recently, Brian became a book publisher - West-End Books - where Ron Base, friend and former Sun colleague, had two of his novels published.

"I'm working on several book and documentary projects of my own and I plan to publish my own books under the West-End Books imprint," Brian told TSF in March.

Brian always seemed ageless, a young-at-heart writer who would be around forever.

Suddenly, in May, Brian was unconscious in St. Michael's Hospital, where doctors learned he had cancer and it was spreading.

The Windsor Star story says it all about Brian's professionalism and character:

“He was just a very dedicated journalist and more so he was a great person,” said Jim Bruce, retired publisher of the Star, who worked as city editor during Vallee’s reporting days in Windsor.

Brian is survived by his longtime partner Nancy Rahtz and several brothers and sisters.

No funeral arrangements have been announced, but a celebration of life will no doubt be arranged to say farewell to a gem of a man.

Memories of Brian Vallee can be emailed to TSF.

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