BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Brandon University president Deborah Poff speaks during Tuesday’s memorial service for Brandon University chancellor Henry Champ at the Lorne Watson Recital Hall. The veteran journalist died Sept. 23 in Washington, D.C., at the age of 75.
Henry Champ was remembered as a passionate journalist, a remarkable role model and a true friend at a special memorial held at Brandon University Tuesday.
The veteran broadcaster and BU chancellor died last month in Washington, D.C., at the age of 75.
Longtime friend Dick McDonald recalled some fond memories from the friendship that spanned more than 50 years.
"He was a man of many talents — an athlete, singer, actor, debater, pool player and a bridge player," McDonald said. "He did say … that he hadn’t graduated because of playing too much bridge."
Born in Hartney and raised in Brandon, Champ studied arts at BU in 1957 and 1958 before getting his start as a journalist at the Brandon Sun in the early 1960s.
Brandon Sun publisher Eric Lawson also spoke to the crowd of about 100 people, who gathered in the Lorne Watson Recital Hall to pay their respects.
"The Brandon Sun is proud to remember Henry among our journalistic alumni," Lawson said.
"Henry always understood there’s always a story to be told … he never lost that great story-telling ability throughout his long journalistic career."
Champ went on to work with CTV’s investigative affairs show "W5" and served as the network's Washington and London bureau chief. He also worked for American giant NBC in Europe and Washington before joining CBC Halifax in 1993.
"We used to watch him on television all the time," McDonald said. "He was darn lucky that he didn’t get himself killed overseas somewhere. He was running away from bullets on occasion."
CBC News Network host Heather Hiscox had a special video message for the memorial.
"Henry’s last few years as our Washington correspondent overlapped with my first few years as morning host," she said. "What a treat it was to work closely with him during that time. He was a giant in journalism, he’d done it all … He travelled the world covering the biggest stories of the day."
Hiscox went on to say that Champ was "generous with his knowledge, unfailingly kind and helpful and incredibly passionate about whatever story he was covering. He never lost his zest for his work or his zeal for being on a story."
Champ had been battling lung cancer for several years — though as BU president Deborah Poff explained, he never wanted to focus on his illness.
"I remember when I talked to Henry, he always seemed like you were the only person in the world that he wanted to talk to," Poff said, adding: "If sheer will and determination could make a person well, Henry would be with us today."
Champ was instrumental in bringing several students from inner-city Washington, D.C., who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to pursue a post-secondary education to study at BU.
Kristina Richbow, a BU biology student from Washington, said Champ changed her life.
"Without him, I wouldn’t be here," she said. Richbow met Champ in her senior year of high school.
"Mr. Champ talked to me about the school … and pretty much from there I went home and talked to my mom about it," she said. "At first she was a little skeptical because it was so far, but eventually she said yes, so here I am."
Richbow will never forget the impact Champ made on her life.
"I think the most important thing will be for me to finish school here, and do my best at everything," she said.
"I think his main goal was for us to be successful, so I think by me being successful will be a great way to basically say ‘thank you’."
Champ is survived by his wife, Karen, and five children.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 10, 2012