People

Hamilton Says Goodbye to Randy Steele

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 08, 2009

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.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By aa (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2009 at 14:15:34

RIP Sir.... You can take your photos from Heaven now

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By Fan Of Steele (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2009 at 14:53:04

Someone said that a man's wealth is measured not by the money he leaves behind once he is gone, but by the friends he leaves behind who miss him. It was obvious from attending the saturday tribute that Randy died a very very wealthy man!

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By Just some guy (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2009 at 15:30:55

Randy was so unpretentious, it didn't matter who you were, he'd take time to listen to you. I was lucky enough to cross paths with him a few times over the past 10 years or so and he always had time to stop and chat. I can only imagine how much worse it is for people who were that much closer to him, but I'm hurting from knowing he's gone. I still remember him on CHCH pushing cars out of the snow saying, 'And you thought being on TV was easy!!' It sure was nice to see the montage of him again at the memorial. (One of the sad things about the decline of local coverage is that warm, colorful personalities like Randy will have a harder time telling communities their own stories.)

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By Eddies (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2009 at 21:43:45

Thank you for sharing. The memorial was wonderful, I just know Randy would of approved. From Jeff Mahoney making us laugh to Randy's father in law making us cry to the great music (man did Randy loooove music). All I hope is he has a mixed CD for his trip to heaven. :'(

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By blueshamilton (anonymous) | Posted June 29, 2009 at 20:47:40

Video from the show at blueshamilton.blogspot.com. We'll be posting up more soon.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 30, 2009 at 07:58:31

Thank you, blueshamilton, for sharing this. Here are direct links to the posts.

Part 1: http://blueshamilton.blogspot.com/2009/0...

Part 2: http://blueshamilton.blogspot.com/2009/0...

Part 3: http://blueshamilton.blogspot.com/2009/0...

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