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Works (17)
Contents:
  1. Series: Daily Telegraph Book of Obituaries
  2. Rockingham, John Meredith "Rocky"
  3. Books in Canada - Review
  4. Canada from Afar: The Daily Telegraph Book of Canadian Obituaries

As a quick learner he was regularly sent off on courses, but came to realise that these were keeping him away from his regiment. When not enjoying weekends with his fashionable friends in London, he spent his leaves on minesweepers in the Channel — yet to his chagrin he saw no action. When, in June , he eventually landed in Normandy, at Arromanches, he was leading 24 steel-helmeted nurses.

Williams was first given the important job of supplying and repairing equipment for various military units. On one occasion he had to provide brassieres for the wives and daughters of Poles serving with Canadian 1st Division after the women had been freed from a concentration camp. On another occasion, when the RAF required some old tank trucks to extract Spitfires stuck in the mud, Williams provided them in exchange for 50 Harley Davidson motorbikes. He made his imaginative transaction without bothering his senior officers for permission.

On leaving the Army, Williams returned to Canada, where he married Irina Edney, with whom he would have two daughters and a son, and went to work for a soap company. But he was soon lured back by the post of secretary to the Vice-Chief of Staff. When the Korean War broke out in he secured a place with the Patricia's, and soon after his arrival was ordered to capture Hill in front of the 28th British Commonwealth Brigade line.

Finally he was able to see action.

Series: Daily Telegraph Book of Obituaries

The operation went smoothly at first, but trouble came when Canadian artillery shells began to fall on to his withdrawing company — until he successfully protested against his men being fired on. His remaining six weeks in the line was spent patrolling in front of the battalion and countering enemy patrols. On coming out, Williams was appointed flag officer in Washington as part of the unified armed forces mission and served as chief of staff with Canadian 4th Brigade in Germany.

After a spell with the high commission in London, he decided to retire in , but remained in Britain as a representative of two Canadian firms. The following year he published a history of the Patricia's, and also became a trustee of the regimental museum at Gault's old house near Ilminster in Somerset. With his wide British acquaintance, Williams soon picked up other work, and he became the long-standing Canadian representative on the Commonwealth Ex-Services League before finally producing a characteristically modest and restrained memoir, Far From Home Jeff Williams's wife died in , and his companion of his later years, Els Eversa, also predeceased him.

Populist Right-wing former Mayor of Toronto whose drunken antics scandalised his fellow citizens. Terms and Conditions. Style Book.

Rockingham, John Meredith "Rocky"

Weather Forecast. Accessibility links Skip to article Skip to navigation. Monday 11 November Military Obituaries. In Military Obituaries. Telegraph on Facebook. More from The Telegraph. Massingberd who delighted in being called "Massivesnob" by the satirical Private Eye borrowed freely from the model established in Brief Lives by John Aubrey, a gossipy 17th-century chronicler of the rich, the eccentric and the devious.

Aubrey's 20th-century biographer Anthony Powell aptly described Brief Lives as "that extraordinary jumble of biography from which later historians plundered so much of their picturesque detail. The Daily Telegraph wasn't saddled, as was The Times, with a tradition of writing "for the record," so Mr. Massingberd could start afresh with egalitarian, eccentric and lively accounts - one of his more famous offerings died when his penile implant imploded. Before the advent of blogs and online newspapers, he made obits "interactive.

Massingberd set up a conduit between them and discerning readers capable of deciphering hidden slurs and playful meanings. Because the obituaries were unsigned, the writers were free to unsheathe their literary knives without public accountability - although readers delighted in guessing who'd written what.

He also left rival papers in the dust by turning his obituaries into a series of books that even includes Canada From Afar: The Telegraph Book of Canadians. Recently, The Economist got into this game as well.

Even before Mr. Massingberd jolted British obituary writing, Alden Whitman, the legendary, Canadian-born obituary editor of The New York Times from to , had provided a lively corrective to the sonorous platitudes of the cenotaph tradition by interviewing national figures in advance as a way of making their obituaries more personal. Since then, asking for pre-death interviews has been a twitchy but essential part of the job, especially in North America.

My first time, I followed the standard editorial advice and just said I was writing a profile. And a good thing, too, as the man lived for three more years. By then, I had added a civic accomplishment and a romantic wrinkle to his story. This experience taught me that, editorial advice notwithstanding, the truth is the only way.

But I always end the conversation by offering to update every five years.


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Her mother, she explained, had lived well past her th birthday. Publications especially like the comfort of having obituaries filed in advance in case a truly famous person dies inconveniently, as actor Paul Newman did last September. His death was reported early Saturday morning, too late for The Globe and Mail's weekend edition, so we posted a news story on the website and followed with articles in the paper on Monday.

Because nobody can predict when a seemingly healthy person will succumb to a heart attack, an overdose as with actor Heath Ledger in January or a traffic accident, most obit writers have nightmares about being caught short. Gay Talese described just such a disaster in Mr. Bad News , his s profile of Alden Whitman. One day in , the great editor heard from his wife, who also worked at the paper, that Adlai Stevenson had died suddenly in England.

The Times had about 2, advance obits on file, but none for the man who had twice run for president against Dwight D. Talese wrote. But soon he felt a soft tap on his shoulder. It was one of the metropolitan editor's assistants, asking: 'Will you be down soon, Alden? That has happened to me dozens of times, with subjects ranging from Bertha Wilson, Canada's first female member of the Supreme Court, and Richard Bradshaw, general director of the Canadian Opera Company, to Mr.

Monette, the actor and former artistic director of the Stratford Festival. I share Mr. Whitman's urge to flee, but then I hit my Rolodex to confirm the news, dig into biographical sources, intrude on grieving relatives and interview shocked sources - all in a frenzied attempt to write a piece that goes beyond the obvious and doesn't descend into eulogy. An obituary is often the last time a deceased's name appears in print: There are no follow-up stories on the dead beat.

That's why it is crucial not only to break the news, but to have the details right. And that includes making sure the person is really dead.

In , The New York Times picked up a news item from The Daily Telegraph, and published an obituary of dancer and actress Katherine Sergava even though she was still alive and stayed that way for two more years. Ever since, its obits have included a clunker of a second paragraph that reports the cause of death and the source who confirmed it.

Occasionally, the gap between preparing an advance obit and needing it is eerily small. I finished writing a lengthy piece on Beland Honderich, a former publisher of The Toronto Star, and an hour later heard that he had died. Just over a year ago, famed actor William Hutt invited me to his home in Stratford, Ont. Although suffering from leukemia, he didn't expect to die any time soon - a prognosis shared by his doctors. For 90 minutes, we had a frank and wide-ranging conversation. Although completely lucid, he seemed to have transcended the quotidian world to a contemplative space I felt privileged to share.

He wanted to go on living, but he wasn't afraid of death. Five days later, he died - to the shock of friends, colleagues and his obituary writer. How I wish I'd had a video camera in my journalist's tool kit that afternoon, so that the final interview with Canada's most majestic actor - in which he discussed pacifism, patriotism, growing up at odds with his own sexuality and finding a home at the Stratford Festival - could have been captured for posterity.

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Books in Canada - Review

Despite our curiosity about the freshly deceased, many people think that writing obituaries is a wacky preoccupation for somebody who could be out chasing fire engines. I've grown accustomed to the arched eyebrow, the flash of revulsion, the involuntary step backward, followed by: "But, that's so morbid!

Then there are the cracks about the Angel of Death, the speculation about "who's on your slab today? In a bid to get a little respect as well as to compare notes with others on my beat , I joined the Society of Professional Obituary Writers SPOW this year and attended its founding workshop in Portland, Ore.

Canada from Afar: The Daily Telegraph Book of Canadian Obituaries

The first time I Googled the society's acronym, I came up with "sex position of the week," but SPOW's backstory is almost as spicy - a tale of rivalry, power struggles and journalistic standards that began in a bar in North Dallas in the late s. Carolyn Gilbert, a high-school English teacher turned consultant, was tossing a few back with a group of friends and fellow obit junkies, when it suddenly occurred to her that she should convene the First Great Obituary Writers' Conference.

Two years later, Ms. Gilbert expanded, forming the International Association of Obituarists and soliciting dues to support www. After that, she attracted the weird, the wannabes, the professionals and the curious to sessions in such places as Bath, England, and a tiny village in upstate New York named after ancient King Alfred. But there also were some arcane participants, such as EllynAnne Geisel, an "apron archeologist" and the author of Apronisms: Pocket Wisdom for Every Day.


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