We lost a couple of people this past week who truly succeeded in making at least part of the world a better place.
Pete Seeger, a legendary folksinger, songwriter and generally good person, died in New York at the age of 94. Among the first songs I remember singing when they popped up on the radio were Goodnight Irene and On Top of Old Smokie. Pete and the other members of The Weavers sold lots of records then, but it was not a good time to speak your mind if you were on the left. Pete was blacklisted in the hysteria that was led by slime like Joe McCarthy, but he survived and later became a champion of the Hudson River where he lived.
On the Canadian prairies, we lost John Robertson, one of the most brilliant minds to ever scribble a newspaper column. John had some golden days writing about the Blue Jays and the Expos, but his greatest passion were a group of football players who slugged it out at Taylor Field in Regina.
In 1979, when the green and white were just about down for the count, Robertson became the greatest cheerleader the team ever knew, and Rider Pride was born.
In his native Winnipeg he started the Manitoba Marathon in that same year. It’s a great athletic event, but it also helps people with mental handicaps. Robbie was one of the first and greatest champions of that group who are far too easy to forget.
Gordon Sinclair of the Free Press recalled a long chat he had with ‘Robbie’ in 1991. Strokes had robbed him of the ability to do what he loved so much, the ability to write. It left him sad and bored, as I’m sure would be true for any of us if we suffered a similar fate.
Like Pete Seeger, John Robertson left a huge footprint in this world. I was honoured to call him a friend, and I shall miss him.
I’m Roger Currie