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04/17/2012

Remembering Randy

Rick Madonik, Staff Photographer - @RMadonik

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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,

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Photo by Wanda Goodwin

 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.

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Toronto Star Editor Michael Cooke moves Randy's portrait as he begins to speak in the office. Vince Talotta Photo

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Designer Spencer Wynn listens to the speakers. Vince Talotta photo.

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Reporter Mary Ormsby comforts Travel Editor Jim Byers as columnist Dave Perkins looks down. Vince Talotta photo.

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Reporter Sue Pigg laughs during one of the lighter moments. Vince Talotta photo.

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Newsroom staff listen to speakers during the memorial ceremony. Vince Talotta photo.

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Chairman of the Board (TorStar) John Honderich speaks about Randy in the early years of his career. Richard Lautens photo.

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A portrait of Randy Starkman at the front of the room as staff gather. Richard Lautens photo.

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Staff gather around "the hub" as speakers reflect on the life of Randy Starkman. Richard Lautens photo.

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Reporter Leslie Scrivener is seen through the crowd as she listens to speakers. Richard Lautens photo.

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Photographer David Cooper, reporters Michelle Shepherd and Jim Rankin, among those gathered for the memorial. Richard Lautens photo.

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Reporter Dan Girard tells how Starkman would have his daily phone call at 3:15 pm with daughter Ella. Richard Lautens photo.

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The newsroom gathered for the afternoon memorial. Richard Lautens photo.

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Reporter Kevin Donovan during the afternoon memorial. Rick Madonik photo.

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Columnist, former Sports Editor, Dave Perkins, during the midday remembrance. Rick Madonik photo.

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Reporter Vanessa Lu near the projection screen which shows a younger version of Randy Starkman. Rick Madonik photo.

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From left, Eddie Lee, Curt Rush (back) and Donovan Vincent, listen to speeches. Rick Madonik photo.

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Travel Editor Jim Byers (who headed up a number of Olympic teams for The Star) tells a story about Randy's need to buy a quirky hat. Rick Madonik photo.

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National Editor Colin Mackenzie listens to speeches. Rick Madonik photo.

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Picture Editor Denis Cyr watches the presentation. Rick Madonik photo

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City Editor Graham Parley looks on as speakers take to the microphone. Parley was Sports Editor for years. Rick Madonik photo

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Reporter Jennifer Yang in front of columnist Rosie DiManno and TorStar Chair of the Board, John Honderich. Rick Madonik photo



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Shocked by the death of Randy Starkman. I knew Randy in Barcelona 92, my first Olimpic experience. Then I was working for El País, the spanish daily. Randy was a wonderful man, always selfless, always brilliant,always friendly, a true legend. You'll be missed.

He was just a 19-year-old when I first came across Randy. He was definitely a special guy. While most reporters want to cover the Toronto Maple Leafs and Blue Jays, Randy preferred amateurs, those athletes who competed for the pure joy and exhilaration of sport. He had a respect for those athletes who, in turn, respected him and his ability to tell their stories
in an accurate, true and compelling manner. I am not sure there is another sports reporter in Canada who has dedicated h
He was a soft-hearted,considerate and compassionate person.
He was awarded the Dr. Tom Pashby Sports Safety Fund Award and quickly handed the $10,000 cheque to the Dovercourt Boys and Girls Club.
I am not sure there is another sports reporter in Canada with his unique encyclopedic knowledge of all our elite athletes.
I will miss him and his phone calls on both a personal and professional level. Lois Kalchman

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Great photos of a sad time. I didn't know Randy well, but I can see the effect he had on the lives of those who did.

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