Monday, January 12, 2015

Family, friends, colleagues to mark the life -- and death at 68 -- of Sean Rossiter

Rossiter self-portrait, 1968
Two years ago, Sean Rossiter won the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Western Magazine Awards. Last week, after a 10-year struggle with Parkinson's disease, he died at the lamentably early age of 68 His friends and colleagues are gathering at 6 p.m. on Thursday the 15th in Vancouver at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden to mark his passing. His friend, photographer Alex Waterhouse-Hayward, wrote an appreciation of Rossiter on his blog. Charles Campbell did the same at the Georgia Straight, noting -- among many other things -- Rossiter's role in saving Vancouver magazine in 1974. He went on to write many articles for the revived magazine (many of those award-winners) and his long-running Twelfth and Cambie column. He wrote about municipal politics with a passion and provided clarity to sometimes arcane and complex planning issues. He wrote with similar passion about flyers, flying and airplanes. 

I had not seen Rossiter in years, going back to our days in the later '60s on The Gazette at the (then) University of Western Ontario. He was the editor when I first worked for and knew him (this was when he was Tom, not Sean) and I eventually succeeded him. He was also the editorial cartoonist and met the weekly deadline by the skin of his teeth each issue. At one point, I seem to recall, he "tried out" law school. And did some commercial art work. But eventually migrated to the west coast which seemed to have been the perfect place for him and for his journalism. He clearly made good, long-term friendships there and I imagine most of those friends will be sharing their memories on Thursday. 

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