Sunday 25 January 2009

30 - Garf Webb

Garfield "Garf" Webb, one of the two Webb brothers instrumental in the Toronto Sun's production department for a couple of decades, died Friday of a heart attack in his Newtonville home. He was 61.

His brother, John Webb, who moved on from the Sun in 1991 to work at the Los Angeles Daily News and the Chicago Sun-Times, died of a heart attack in Chicago in 1997 at age 55.

The brothers were, from the 1970s, loyal and dedicated Toronto Sun employees, first in the early Eclipse Building composing room and later in the pressroom of the new Sun building that opened in 1975.

Garf, former production manager, wrote about the rising of the Sun from a production point of view for the tabloid's 25th anniversary edition in 1996.

He wrote, in part:

"For all of us who were a part of Production in those early years, growing up with the Sun was the experience of a lifetime.

"It was, depending on the situation of the moment, exciting, frustrating, exhilarating, annoying and fun. Looking back, I am sure that not one of us would have had it any other way.

"It all began on a cold March day in 1972 when John Webb hired 15 of us to form a composing room at the Eclipse Building at 322 King St. West.

"A huge step for production came in April 1975 when Goss installed two presses in our new building at 333 King E. In typical Sun style, the installation was completed three months earlier than projected.

"On that first evening, the presses were started without first running a print test, but to our credit we had the foresight to have Web Offset back us up and they completed half the run."

That is the loving relationship the Webb brothers had with the Sun and it earned them the highest respect from management, particularly founding publisher Doug Creighton.

John Webb worked for the Toronto Telegram but left a year before the Tely folded and the Sun was launched. Desperate for a composing room in the Eclipse Building, he was hired by the Sun in 1972 and set up shop in the basement.

John left the Sun in 1991 after almost 20 years to work as production manager of the Los Angeles Daily News. In June of 1997, he was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times as director of production, with a new press facility due to open in 1999.

But 10 days into his Sun-Times job, the father of two grown sons died of a heart attack. It was not his first heart attack. John was hospitalized while at the Sun in 1975. He is buried at the Bethesda Cemetery in Bowmanville.

The Toronto Sun presses Garf and John once nurtured were silenced last year with the opening of a new Quebecor printing plant in Islington. All of their former co-workers went their own way.

Garfield Gilbert Webb, born in Bowmanville on Sept. 12, 1947, is survived by his wife, Brenda, a son, Sebastian, a sister Heather Myles, and mother, Hilda Webb.

Visitation is Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Morris Funeral Chapel, 4 Division Street, Bowmanville, with funeral service in the chapel at 1 p.m. Interment at Bowmanville Cemetery.

Donations to the Heart and Stroke Foundation or a charity of your choice.

Memories of Garf can be e-mailed to TSF.

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