In a public memorial service on Saturday, Hamilton bid goodbye to Randy Steele, the beloved newscaster, musician, photographer, father, husband and friend who died before his time in his 48th year after a lengthy bout with cancer.
Through a beautiful ceremony held in a packed Centenary United Church on Main and MacNab, we were reminded again just how many lives Randy touched both on and off camera. He had a boundless capacity to make everyone feel important and valued and heard. He always watched and listened carefully for people's stories, and he took delight in sharing them.
It's what made him such a great journalist, and it's what made him a friend to so many people. He saw the great beauty hidden in people and places that most of use would dismiss as mundane or even ignoble; and he saw the humour in every situation, including his own.
The last words he wrote, on the notepad he kept with him when he could no longer speak, were directed to his nurse, who was lifting him to adjust his position on the bed. He wrote, "You're only picking me up so you can hug me."
After Randy lost his larynx to cancer, he turned to his love of photography so he could continue to share his unique perspective and communicate his love of Hamilton and all its people and places.
During the ceremony, a large screen displayed a selection of his photographs, and it was impossible not to notice just how prominently they featured his wife Maggie and their four daughters. It was an inspiring effort to leave them with a clear sense of how he saw them - how much delight he took in their presence and company. It's why he was determined to die at home, surrounded by his family, and not sequestered in a hospital bed.
You can still browse a selection of Randy's photos on his photo blog: steelecitysnapshots.blogspot.com/.
The ceremony included a moving performance by Rocketship 7, Randy's last band, who paid tribute to his memory with a selection of music that included a song Randy wrote years ago for his punk band The Rat Bastards, the sweetly mischievous "Waiting for My Man."
Singer Mimi Clayton-Shaw was simply magnificent in the band's touching interpretation of "Fix You" by Coldplay, a song I don't think I'll be able to hear again without getting teary.
Tom Wilson, another friend Randy picked up along the way, performed Gordon Lightfoot's classic "If You Could Read My Mind", followed by a touchingly appropriate rendition of "Shine" by Wilson's former band Junkhouse.
The chorus seems to sum up Randy's irrepressible cheeky optimism perfectly: "It's just a matter of time before we get to shine / It's not a question of when or who does the crime."
RIP, Randy Steele. You are already missed.
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