Thursday 28 August 2014

At 30 - Diane Creamer

The Toronto Sun Family has lost another former longtime staffer with the June 3, 2014, death of Diane Creamer. 

Diane, a coordinator in the Toronto Sun's classified automotive section, died from breast cancer. She was 71.

Randy Miller, friend and former colleague, says Diane's true calling at the Sun was "cheerleader and events coordinator.

"She saw to the golf weekends, ski weekends anniversary and events and Christmas parties. She knew how to call in IOUs and there were many owing her."

Randy says Diane developed breast cancer "and like any curve ball, she dealt with it with courage and optimism."

Diane left the Sun on her own terms when her late husband, Murray Thompson, was not well and embarked on a dream cruise to the Orient, he said.

Randy said they retired to Balm Beach "where her enthusiasm never wavered and she was into gardening and community involvement. 

"Diane is one reason I loved to work at the Toronto Sun. She was fiercely proud of her family I'm sorry for their loss."

Memories of Diane can be emailed to

Saturday 23 August 2014

Memories of Jean

Updated Aug. 25, 2014 

Jean Osborne was a very special in the hearts of former Toronto Sun colleagues. They remember her smile, her calming personality and her contribution to the smooth operations at the switchboard.

More memories of Jean, a Day Oner who died Aug. 19, 2014, from Alzheimer's: 

Sharon Stott, former Toronto Sun reporter: "Jean was one of the kindest people at the Sun when I was there. My fondest memory was of being deathly ill with bronchitis and Jean coming up the stairs of my falling-down top-floor squat, bringing me a huge vat of creamed chicken and biscuits. Such kindness. She was also a sergeant major of the phones, knowing which ones to let through and which ones to send to the ozone. Hugs to her dear family." 

Andy Donato, cartoonist and fellow Day Oner: "Jean was was just one lovely lady. Her  and Mrs. K were a such a great duo at the switchboard. I loved the way they would track down people who were being sought after by our reporters."

Les Pyette, former city editor and CEO:  "So sorry to hear of Jean's passing. She was always calm in the middle of a nutsy newsroom, always a true professional. When we were stressed in those early days, she always had a quiet, sensible word. Sincere sympathy to her family and friends." 

Hugh Wesley, photographer and former photo desk chief: "In a chaotic environment, charged with fiery frustrations, demands and opinions, I remember Jean as unflappable, without a mean word, a very occasional raised eyebrow, but most often a sweet, gentle and obliging demeanour and a ready smile. Definitely one of the good ones. RIP."  

John Iaboni, former sports writer: "We're saddened to learn of Jeanie's passing ... a classy lady who always made my day with her great smile and upbeat manner. Jeanie, Mrs. K. and Marj were so gifted at their switchboard (sleuth) duties that often times they were deserving of a shared byline for tracking down the newsmakers (around the globe) that we couldn't find! We've now said farewell to Mrs. K. and Jeanie and are blessed to still catch up to Marj on occasion. Our condolences to Jeanie's family ... rest assured we won't forget her."  

Email your memories of Jean to  

At 30 - Jean Osborne

The Toronto Sun Family has lost another member of The 62.

Jean Osborne, a much-loved Day One switchboard operator, died in her 80s on Aug. 19, 2014, from the ravages of Alzheimer's. 

Jean, remembered for her smile and kindly disposition, was one of the 62 former Toronto Telegram staffers to take a gamble on the upstart Sun in the old Eclipse Building at King St. W. and John Street after the Tely folded.

From the first day of the Toronto Sun - Nov. 1, 1971 - to her retirement, Jean was part of a switchboard team that was integral to the tabloid's success.

On Day One, she was joined on the switchboard in the factory environment by Margaret Kmiciewicz, aka Mrs. K., who died at 87 on Dec. 13, 2008. Memories of Margaret

Over the years, Margaret and Jean welcomed and nurtured new switchboard operators before and after the Sun's move to 333 King Street East, including Marjorie, Mary, Dawne etc.

While some businesses hide their switchboards in back rooms and basements, Jean, Margaret et al were positioned in the heart of the newsroom at 333. They were, after all, a conduit to world leaders, politicians, personalities, thousands of readers etc.  

During quiet times, they were fascinating conversationalists and story tellers. 

Reaction to Jean's death at Hillsdale Terraces in Oshawa on the Toronto Sun Family Facebook page was swift:

Joan Sutton Straus: "I am so sorry to hear of her battle with Alzheimer's, and send my love and sympathy to her family who will mourn her absence but not, in this case. her death. Jean was a graceful presence at the Sun, totally professional in her work, always ready with a smile. I will never forget her." 

Cal Millar: "Very sad news about Jean. The switchboard was always the hub of the paper. She will be missed by many."

Dawne Blackwood: "Over the years I have thought of Jean many times. She was a wonderful lady and even better was a wonderful boss."

Siobhan Moore: "Jean was a sweetheart, a very gentle lady who handled the boisterous newsroom with style."

Sheila Chidley-Bilicki: Always a pleasant and such a nice person. Sad to hear of her battle with Alzheimer's and of her passing. RIP, Jean."

Moira MacDonald"I am so sorry to hear about this. I will always remember her smile. Another one of those switchboard ladies who made me a top Brownie cookie seller for years!"

Linda Barnard: "Sorry to hear this. What a lovely person Jean was. She and Mrs. K were the voices of the Sun back in the day. May the good Lord not put her on hold and put all her calls through. RIP, Jean."

Linda A. Fox: "That Sun switchboard was our first line of defence... and Jean did a great job!"

Rashida Jeeva: "Jean was a lovely person. She made a quilt - by hand - when my first daughter was born. I still have it."

Lorrie Goldstein: "Simply one of the nicest people in the Sun newsroom. So sorry to hear of her passing. Sincere condolences to her family and friends."

Memories of Jean Osborne can be emailed to

Sunday 17 August 2014

At 30 - Bob Olver

Some former colleagues would say family, journalism and cats comfortably filled the life and times of Robert Henry Olver, who died recently at 80 in Peterborough.

His media life covered a lot of bases, including a stint on the Toronto Sun sports desk during the glory years of the tabloid.  

Bob's blog and a series of postings called Songs of the Catkin Cats captured his feelings for felines. It can be read here.

Bob's children prepared the following obit:

OLVER, Robert Henry - (1934-2014) Our dad, Bob, died peacefully on July 27th at the age of 80 in Peterborough with his family at his side. He is lovingly remembered by his wife, Kathy; his children Robert, Heather, Matthew (Lisa), Chris (Vanessa) and Peter (Shannon); his grandchildren Ryan, Erin, Juliette, Owen and Jesse; and by great-grandchildren Breanne and Owen. Bob was also a loving father to Mark, who passed away in 2008.

A retired journalist, newspaper editor and author who recently completed his memoir, "Catness", Bob is also remembered as a tireless champion of the cat community, working with his wife Kathy to save the lives of countless animals over the years.

A memorial service will be held in his honour on Sunday, August 17th from 2 - 4 pm at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, 106 Trinity Street in Toronto (King St. and Parliament St.). In lieu of flowers, donations to Bob and Kathy's beloved Catkin Cat Farm would be gratefully accepted at any TD branch account number 255-5173241282615

A book promotion for the award-winning author reads:

Robert Olver has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and author, writing for major news organizations such as The Toronto Star and The Toronto Sun, Reuter News Agency  in London, and The Sun of London.

Olver's first novel, The Bicycle Tree, was published by McClelland and Stewart and his non-fiction work, The Making of Champions, was published by Penguin-Viking in 1991. His freelance work, fiction and non-fiction, has appeared in many publications, including The Saturday Evening Post, Vanity Fair, Maclean's magazine and Chatelaine.

Awards include The Macmillan-Bloedel Award for Excellence for a series on drug addiction and two Dunlop Awards for news features on social issues related to sports. Olver and his wife, Kathy, are dedicated gardeners.

Their garden, known as The Cat Garden, was started in 1991 and has several times been featured on The Discovery Channel's TV series The Guerrilla Gardener, on CTV's Mark Cullen Gardening and in many newspaper and magazine articles.

In 1990, the Olvers founded The Catkin Willow Fund for Stray Cats, which mission is to rehabilitate abused and abandoned cats and to work with feral and even wild cats as well.

Our permanent feline community is limited to 30 at present, but we have helped hundreds of cats since Catkin Willow began.

Memories of Bob can be shared here by emailing

John Iaboni, former sports writer: "When Bob Olver first walked into the Sun's sports department and started editing copy, my first impression was: What the heck is this non-sports type who seemed more like an English professor doing here? Fact was he was a terrific editor.

"When he wasn't sure of what we were trying to say, he would actually ask us what we meant instead of putting pencil to type and ignoring our styles, writing skills and, yes, feelings. If the explanation made sense to him and beamed with enlightenment over some sporting phrase of fact he didn't know or comprehend, he'd leave it; if not, he'd recommend a way to write it so that the he and the reader would clearly get the picture.

"Bob's way would invariably be the right way. He was a great guy to work with and helped me become a better writer. My condolences to Bob's family."