Saturday, March 22, 2008

The most unforgettable 'teacher' in my life

GEORGE GROSS was one of a kind. He was wise sometimes. He was humourous sometimes. He was even hard driving at other times.
And I can say all these things, for I was his right-hand man at the very beginning of the Toronto Sun in November 1971.
Actually, I learned from this debonair man of the world during my days with the late and great Toronto Telegram. And what a learning experience that was.
When the Tely went the way of the dodo bird, George Gross was an integral member of the team which began working on wooden crates in that early Canadian foundry -- the Eclipse Whitewear Building. And I was the fortunate one, being named the first assistant sports editor under Gross' leadership.
Those days were filled with apprehension and wonderment at the Little Paper That Grew as it blossomed into a newspaper, which actually hit the streets every day.
It was a miracle.
There were nights at his home, planning the look and essence of those sports pages. It was like looking over the shoulder of a master at work.
Then there were the "chats," if his right-man man stepped out of line and words such as "okay, kiddo," which always seemed to conclude every so-called "lecture."
In those days, we were family, so when I decided to leave to become sports editor of the Edmonton Sun and later its executive editor, this man I considered to be my father in the business realm was mildly annoyed. And the communication between us became somewhat strained.
A few years late, in the mid-80s, George Gross came back into my life after my relationship with the Edmonton Sun disintegrated.
That's when the "real" George Gross came to the forefront and he welcomed me back into the Toronto Sun fold, for which I will be eternally grateful.
While I retired in 1994, this wise and generous man continued to be such an influence with his writings and his generous ways.
When I heard of his passing Friday, I went into shock, for he definitely was one of a kind.


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