As editor-in-chief at The StarPhoenix, I worked with Cam Fuller and I was also lucky to call him my friend. A short time after he died in December 2019, I went to the newsroom and sat at Cam’s desk. I had been asked to prepare a tribute for his funeral and I think I hoped to find some of his particular magic remaining, to tap into his brilliance and talent one more time.
“As his friend, however, what I will hold especially dear was his talent for living and his capacity for finding ways to make life better for those around him.”
Everything was as he left it, including his collection of knick-knacks, all stuff that brought him happiness: shells, rocks, pictures of his sons, and the old-fashioned ball glove with a baseball that he walked around with while thinking about what he wanted to write. There was a photo of the pedal bike he fixed up in a fantastic retro-chic manner.
I stayed in his chair, looking for help in how to summarize a rich life in a few words. Then, my eyes landed on a sticky note planted at the bottom of his monitor. The note contained a list of four words: Empathy, enjoyment, balance and kindness.
Isn’t it just like Cam to leave me a perfect selection of words to describe him? I am guessing he put them there as a reminder, an act of aspiration. But I would say he embodied empathy, joy, balance and kindness.
Cam’s wife and sons were the heart of all he did, and I believe it is the confidence that comes with being a well-loved man that allowed him to be so brave in his writing. He was free to live in the moment, to soak in the truth that arrives in everyday occurrences. That provided the fodder for his witty, nail-you-to-the-wall honest and often hilarious writing.
As the editor of the paper, and a fellow journalist, I want to honour the gift of 30 years of his columns and reporting on the arts community. It is a stunning body of work. And because of his long career, Cam was a little famous in Saskatoon. All the perks and praise that come with having a public persona did not turn his head, however. His clever commentary never came at the expense of the dignity of those he was reviewing. To be honest and kind at the same time takes a singular kind of faculty, and he had it.
So, that’s what I would say as his editor. As his friend, however, what I will hold especially dear was his talent for living and his capacity for finding ways to make life better for those around him.
Since his death, people have been sharing stories of the quiet – I’ll call them sneaky – ways he took care of us all. There is the CD of music he thought someone would love. There is the job recommendation that arrived just at the right time. There was his taking the time to edit anybody’s work, no matter how busy he was with his own stuff.
He was thoughtful and intentional in his choices – from wearing red on Fridays to the gifts he would sneak onto your desk. When I bought a loft with 20-foot ceilings, he brought a squadron of balsa wood toy planes to fly around the space at my housewarming.
Cam’s life was cut short far too soon. I know I am not alone in finding this hard to accept. I am so glad, however, he got the time he did have here so right and lived so fully.
Editor, Saskatoon StarPhoenix