COLUMN: No glory, but all heart

Longtime Black Press employee Ron West, who died suddenly two weeks ago, was an integral part of the company.

Ron West was one of the nicest guys around.

The longtime Black Press employee died suddenly two weeks ago at Surrey Memorial Hospital, where he had been scheduled to undergo a routine operation. He was 56.

He had spent the past quarter-century doing a variety of tasks at newspaper offices, from courier work to photography and darkroom efforts. Darkrooms, of course, are a thing of the past at newspapers these days, as are the film cameras that were the mainstay of photographers for many years.

Ron (below) loved to take photos. That’s how we met, when I worked as editor at The Surrey-North Delta Leader. He knew that newspapers welcomed photos taken at fires, car crashes and other high-profile public incidents, and he started to supply us with a steady stream of them.

Ron WestIt didn’t seem to matter what time of day (or usually night) these incidents occurred.

At the time, the newspaper or TV newscasts were the only places where people could see visual images of these types of incidents. Ron was often on scene with Gary Hanney, a longtime BCTV camera operator who frequently attended breaking news events in Surrey.

The role Ron played in those situations cannot be underestimated.

The Leader was competing for the attention of busy Surrey residents, and while they may not have been interested in the doings of council, they had far more interest in the major car crash, fire or train detainment (Ron attended several of those) that occurred down the street or even a few miles away.

Ron continued to do this work, but was around often enough that he branched into helping out in the darkroom and doing courier work. At that time, all The Leader’s production work was done in Abbotsford, and that necessitated several runs a day to and from the office there.

Ron was an integral part of making sure the papers were produced, printed and delivered.

When I first met him, he lived in Newton, and he later lived in Whalley for many years. He had no immediate family in B.C. He loved to take photos of animals and frequently visited Stanley Park to see and photograph the squirrels.

He was a hard worker, who worked at numerous other jobs to pay the bills. Most recently, he was employed as a dishwasher at Montana’s Cookhouse in South Surrey.

I never heard him complain about anything. He was cheerful and had a smile on his face. He knew everybody in the local Black Press organization and got along with everyone.

Like everybody else, I was shocked to hear of his death. I’d just seen him a few days before, and as usual, he didn’t mention any personal issues. He did his job, kept smiling and headed off to the next stop.

There are a lot of people like Ron who make our businesses, schools, organizations and non-profits succeed. They don’t get a lot of glory, but they are the heart and soul of organizations. That’s why Ron is sorely missed by so many of us.

Frank Bucholtz is the editor of The Langley Times. He writes weekly for The Leader.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey bylaw’s tactics with Uber drivers deemed ‘entrapment’ and ‘completely wrong’

That’s what Councillors Brenda Locke and Linda Annis had to say Monday about city staff hailing Uber drivers then issuing them warnings

Whistleblower says Iranian-Americans questioned at Peace Arch crossing were targeted

Immigration lawyer says response from Customs Border Protection is a ‘total cover up’

Two men charged with first-degree murder in 2019 Surrey case

Two men charged with first-degree murder in killing of Andrew Baldwin, 30, in Surrey

‘Our Surrey Vision’ report to be made public Thursday

Community-engagement project launched by Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association last year

COLUMN: Ontario ride-hailing experience has implications for Surrey

Ride-hailing is now operating in B.C., in a lightning-quick response to the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Police search for man who went missing from Vernon hotel

Jay Rosenberger, 38, was last seen Friday

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sex assaults linked, RCMP ask women not to walk alone in Coquitlam park

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Most Read