Rick Madonik, Staff Photographer - @RMadonik
Randy Starkman loved what he did. He was devoted to it, compelled by it, and consumed with it. Randy never stopped working. And Randy’s career will never be forgotten. The outpouring of messages, blogs, and remembrances, by journalists and athletes from across the country, is a testament to the dedication he displayed in his career,
Starkman leaves behind his wife, CBC journalist Mary Hynes, and their daughter Ella, the two people, undoubtably, who will miss him more than I can imagine.
I was never close friends with Starkman, but I’ve known him for about 45 years. I’m not sure, I’d have to look at my Grade 1 class picture, but I think that’s where I first encountered Randy. We grew up, literally, a couple of blocks from each other in Bathurst Manor, in North York. We went to grade school, junior high and high school together. Although we were the same age, we weren’t in the same circle of people. But we knew each other fairly well and bumped shoulders in road hockey games (he was fearless) or floor hockey.
As I was still trying to figure out what I would do with my life, I was aware Randy began working at UPC (United Press Canada) and was cutting his teeth in sport journalism by covering Alpine skiing in Europe. He landed at the Star a couple of years before I did, but in some weird way, it was comforting to know a guy I grew up with was a coworker. (In fact, I found it strange how many of us from the same year, of the same high school, ended up working at major Toronto media outlets. Sean Fine has been at The Globe and Mail for over 20 years, and Perry Lefko worked at The Toronto Sun, until a few years ago.)
Back in 2003, Starkman and I traveled to Helsinki, Finland, for a week to cover Hayley Wickenheiser’s debut in a men’s professional hockey league. It was a freakishly cold winter (the Baltic Sea was frozen over) and the lack of sunlight (it was early January) was mood altering. What was refreshing was to witness the amazing rapport Starkman had with athletes (in this case Wickenheiser) he had covered for years. Wickenheiser was genuinely happy to see Randy. She went out of her way to spend time with us. Just before we left to come home, and after her debut game, the three of us shared a long, lingering dinner of Reindeer and beers (and a few shots). It is one of my fondest memories.
In 2009, Starkman and I spent two weeks in Vancouver/Whistler as the precursor to our VANOC 2010 coverage. His expertise on various athletes seemed endless. His unending work ethic was tiring – even to watch.
At the same time, he often spoke of his daughter Ella. He was a proud dad and was always looking for something to buy her when he was on a trip.
Just before heading west for that trip, I arrived at my yoga studio to find Starkman just finishing a class. Sometimes you'd find Starkman in places you'd never figured. Once in a while, he did tear himself away from work for other endeavors.
Covering an Olympics for The Star team will never be same. The vast knowledge Randy had tucked away in his head was invaluable, and probably impossible to replicate. His unique sense of humor, and ability to say what was on his mind - although difficult sometimes - will be missed.
This afternoon, at 4 pm, the newsroom gathered to remember Starkman. A number of people spoke, including Editor Michael Cook, John Honderich, TorStar Chairman of the Board (former Publisher, former Editor) and a number of people who worked directly with Starkman. From the stories told, and reflections cast, he surely will be missed.