John Edgar "Jack" Webster was born in Glasgow, Scotland on April 15, 1918. His father was an iron turner who fitted pumps on battle cruisers and merchants ships. His mother was an ambitious woman by the name of Daisy and she encouraged her three surviving sons to exceed.
At the age of 14, Webster began working on the Glasgow Evening Times and worked on several other newspapers. He also married Margaret Macdonald and fought in the Second World War, making it to the rank of Major.
Webster came to Vancouver in 1947 and got a job with the Vancouver Sun newspaper. He covered the labour beat there.
In 1953, Webster began working for CJOR. It was there that he introduced Vancouverites to the wonders of phone-in shows. Jack was able to get to the facts in a story that mattered to people, that would draw the audience in. He seemed to have a sense of what his listeners - and later viewers - would find important.
He could come gruff and stern - especially if he was interviewing you and you were hesitant to answer his questions - but he was apparently a kind and gracious to those seeking his help.
In 1963, when a group of inmates were caught trying to escape and in turn took hostages, the criminals requested the Jack Webster be the mediator and he was able to end to the standoff.
In 1977, Jack Webster began the morning television hot-line show Webster in which interviewed celebrities, news makers and politicians. Webster loved the thrust and parry of a good interview and for the nine years the show was on the air, it was must see for many British Columbians.
Webster is reported as having said that interviewing former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau made him nervous. Trudeau apparently asked after a Webster interview 'Why does that man hate me?'
In 1990, Jack joined Front Page Challenge, a long running CBC television program. He was their permanent fourth panel member until the show's cancellation in 1995.
In 1987, Webster was inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame and in 1988, he was made a member of the Order of Canada.
As I said, Webster could be gruff. He could bellow and holler but those close to him say that his gruff exterior hid a soft and caring interior. Actor Shirley MacLaine said that Jack brought out her maternal instincts. And though in later years, Webster stated that he had felt he had made a mistake of making his job more important than his family, his family disagreed. His three children noted that he not only made time for them but also for the nine grandchildren he had.
In 1986, the Jack Webster Foundation was created to promote and honour excellence in journalism in British Columbia. Each year, journalists judged to have outstanding work receive a Jack Webster Award - a glass statue and a cash prize that has become a mark of journalistic excellence in British Columbia. From the single award in 1987, it has now grown into thirteen awards that cover numerous areas of journalism.
On March 2, 1999, Jack Webster passed away of congestive heart failure at the age of 80. Although Alzheimer's disease invaded his mind in the last few years of his life and robbed him of some of his precious memories, Jack Webster will remain the legend he became in his lifetime.
I hope you find the beauty around you.
Karen Magill, Vancouver, CJOR, history, Front Page Challenge, British Columbia Jack Webster, Vancouver Sun, Alzheimers, Shirley MacLean, Pierre Trudeau, CBC