Saturday, March 2, 2024

Obituary: Former Gazette sports activities columnist Tim Burke dies at age 90

He wrote for the paper from 1971 to 1988, when the Canadiens and Alouettes had been profitable championships and Expos turned “Workforce of the ’80s.”

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They don’t make them like Tim Burke anymore.

Burke was a sports activities columnist at The Gazette from 1971 till 1988, when he left to hitch the short-lived Montreal Each day Information.

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It was an exhilarating interval for sports activities in Montreal with the Canadiens and Alouettes profitable championships — six Stanley Cups and two Gray Cups — and the Expos turning into the “Workforce of the ’80s.” It was additionally a time when journalists labored onerous and partied even tougher.

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In 1972, Burke gained a Nationwide Newspaper Award for sports activities for his three-part sequence on the historical past of Black athletes in Montreal.

“We celebrated that,” Gazette cartoonist Terry Mosher (Aislin), who was one in all Burke’s closest associates, recalled with a chuckle Thursday. “We’d have a good time in regards to the drop of a pin again then.”

Burke, who Mosher described as a “incredible author,” died Wednesday at age 90. He had been hospitalized for seven days, initially for an an infection in his heel, and his well being deteriorated after that.

Burke’s son, Tom, stated his father nonetheless adopted the Montreal sports activities scene intently earlier than his dying and loved studying The Gazette, the Nationwide Publish, the Saturday Wall Road Journal and the tabloid New York Publish.

“My dad all the time beloved the idea of a cool, big-city tabloid,” Burke’s son stated. “That’s why in the long run he jumped on the probability and took the leap of religion to go to the Montreal Each day Information. A tough-hitting, enjoyable tabloid was for him a brand new problem, a brand new, attention-grabbing voyage after all the pieces he had finished — and that goes again to the Montreal Herald.”

Burke’s journalism profession began on the Montreal Herald in 1955 and he later turned a metropolis columnist for the Montreal Star. Former Gazette sports activities editors Ted Blackman and Brodie Snyder employed him away from the Star within the fall of 1971 to turn into a sports activities columnist. The 1971-72 season was Man Lafleur’s rookie yr with the Canadiens.

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“Henri Richard was my dad’s favorite athlete of all time due to what an awesome man he was, how robust he was,” Burke’s son stated. “However there was a particular bond between him and Man Lafleur as a result of they joined, let’s consider, the travelling circus proper on the identical time and my dad all the time acquired an enormous kick out of Man Lafleur.”

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Burke additionally acquired a kick out of Chris Nilan. The final sports activities column Burke wrote for The Gazette was printed on Jan. 29, 1988, after the Canadiens had traded Nilan to the New York Rangers.

“Chris Nilan leaves behind a legacy in Montreal that won’t be forgotten,” Burke wrote. “Not solely did he serve his group and his followers past all expectations, he surpassed himself in bringing some happiness into the lives of the much less lucky youngsters of the group. For all that, he deserves our lasting gratitude.”

After studying about Burke’s dying, Nilan stated: “Tim was one of many good guys that coated the Habs again within the day. He was a personality and a very good man.”

Burke’s son stated his dad nonetheless loved his beer, rum-and-cokes and the odd martini, alongside together with his cigarettes proper up till the top. Burke by no means had a driver’s licence, strolling or taking the bus or taxis to get wherever he wanted to go round personal.

“My dad nonetheless beloved his CFL soccer and had a new-found, further enthusiasm with baseball due to the phenom story of (Shohei) Ohtani,” Burke’s son stated. “My dad beloved that story and the way good this man is. He was additionally invigorated by the World Baseball Basic. He was riveted to that.”

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Associated Tales

Mosher has many fond recollections of these glory days in Montreal sports activities when Burke was overlaying all of it and so they had been partying collectively downtown.

“He was a rascal … he was a fellow rascal as a result of I used to be fairly the character again in these days myself,” stated Mosher, including he lastly acquired a deal with on his personal consuming in 1985. “He was a rascal and I beloved him for it.

“I’m 81 years previous now and each couple of months I’ve to cross just a few extra names off my deal with guide,” Mosher added. “However this one is especially onerous. I hadn’t seen Tim in a very long time however, God, I beloved the person.”

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

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