Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Barry Larock, A Man Well Named

He's the coffee fund guy to me.
He's the Christmas movie guy.
He's the newsroom Casanova who put a blush on a photographer's face and wound up walking down the aisle with her.
He's one of the nicest guys anybody's ever met.
Barry Larock died Monday night in a Peterborough hospital. He was only 45.
I just found out and even though I haven't seen Barry in years, I'm devastated.
It's not fair, you know? It's not.
Barry had more than his fair share of health problems. Born with a heart condition, doctors told his parents that Barry wouldn't live to see 30. Six open heart surgeries later, it seemed that Barry had firmly buried the doctors' prognosis. Then, out of nowhere, out of the complete and unfair blue, Barry found out he had cancer. He fought it like he battled with his heart, four years of fight.
He knew he wasn't going to win this one, though. He blogged about life and death and cancer. But Barry was determined to get the most out of what life had left for him.
And, from what I hear, he did it better than anybody.
I just loved Barry.
I mean, who didn't? He touched everyone he knew.
I worked with Barry in the late 1980s. We were all adventurers, explorers, pirate scribes, hired on by Metroland as the first editorial employees of a brand new community newspaper, Peterborough This Week. There's something exciting about starting a new publication, especially when you're young and confident and foolish.
There was Paul Rellinger, the comedic editor with a heart of gold, nicotine-stained fingers and a weird love for Jerry Lewis' annual telethon. Tanya Robertson (Stewart) was the tall, willowy, uber-organized health reporter who washed her kitchen floor three times a week. Chandra York (Tremblay) was my smoking buddy who got me to quit and who could write like a house on fire. Thom Whitby was the excitable entertainment reporter with the cool car who knew everybody in the city. I covered City Hall for a few months until they moved me to city editor. Jennifer Craw was the short, blonde, hard-boiled photographer, tough as nails, carrying around bags of camera equipment like a pack horse and always in a hurry.
Barry was the sports reporter. He sat over in the corner and plunked away at his computer, writing up Peterborough Pete's games and soccer scores and making us laugh with his quick wit and his raspy voice.
Barry was the coffee guy. We had a coffee pot in the newsroom and we paid a quarter for a cup of joe. Barry collected all the money and looked after buying coffee and creamer and anything else we needed. Thanks to his efforts, we had enough money that year to pay for a Christmas party. He was rabid about it almost and we teased him about being king of the coffee fund.
Isn't it silly how we remember people?
The other thing that hits me about Barry, at the oddest times, is that he used to go to the movie theatre on Christmas Day. In the afternoon, when all the noise and fuss of the morning was over with, before the noise and fuss of dinner, he and his friend would go catch a premiering flick at the local moviehouse. I thought that was the weirdest way to spend Christmas I'd ever heard but, years later, every time I hear about a movie debuting on Christmas Day, I think of Barry.
He looked all innocent, like a boy instead of a young man, all pink-cheeked and blonde. Little did I know he was busting some moves on Jennifer the hard-boiled photographer. They had gone to journalism school together but it was the Peterborough This Week newsroom where romantic sparks flew. They later got married and had a son, Trent, no doubt named after the Trent Canal that winds its way through the city.
Barry, of course, was so much more than the coffee guy or the movie guy. He became a local legend in Peterborough sports circles, writing and coaching and working for the City's recreation department. Mostly it was his class, his sense of humour and his kindness that won people over. Certainly there will be a great number remembering him this morning.
Ah Barry, how the world will miss you.
You were one of a kind, my friend.
And while I know Jennifer and Trent are going through a bad time, I think they are incredibly lucky to have been such an important part of your short life. My heart goes out you both.

Funeral arrangements can be found here.


  1. Lovely obituary. It is important to honour those who have passed over.

  2. Sorry to hear about your friend. That was a really nice tribute to him.

  3. Cathy you are an incredible writer. He sounds like an awesome guy.

    I'm so sorry for your loss...


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