“He was a talker but he was the best listener I’ve ever met.”
Bill Stephenson’s youngest granddaughter, Samantha, fondly remembers the man who would sit through all her dance recitals and set up Easter egg hunts for all her and her cousins.
The legendary sports broadcaster passed away on June 23 at the age of 85 after battling cancer. He was notorious for his coverage of the Toronto Argonauts and his morning banter with Wally Crouter on CFRB. A celebration of life ceremony was held in Mississauga on Saturday.
Stephenson was a family man. He celebrated his 66th wedding anniversary this month with his wife, Louise. “He never took a bad picture,” she said, as she proudly pointed to the collage highlighting some of Stephenson’s finest moments.
Among them was a black and white photo of him and Wally Crouter, smiling widely, in what looked like a morning show ad for CFRB.
“Wally and Bill were a great combo,” said Stephenson’s son, Ron. “But mom and dad were an even better combo.”
His family shared stories of how he called Louise his “darling” up until his very last moments. Their five kids would refer to the duo as Big Bill and Mama Loo.
The magnitude of how many lives Stephenson touched was unbelievable. Colleagues travelled from across the country to pay their respects, including sportscaster Brian Williams. Canadian sports announcers Dave Hodge was also present and had a crowd of old friends around him.
“We wish Bill were here,” he said. “But the next best thing is to… hear all the stories and see all the faces and reminisce.”
Stephenson's former colleague Ted Woloshyn dedicated an hour to "Grampy" on Saturday. Wally Crouter, Dave Agar, Taylor Parnaby, Glen Crouter, Ron Hewat, Doug Philpott, Gary Slaight, and Penny Wilson all shared their memories.