Starphoenix writer known for wit, passion
You’d get to the end of a column ... you were in awe of his ability to make you rethink an old assumption.SASKATOON A beloved columnist and arts editor at the Saskatoon Starphoenix, Cam Fuller is remembered for his ability to affect others with both his words and actions.Fuller died Wednesday at the age of 55 in an Edmonton hospital, surrounded by his family.Inflammation from long-term ulcerative colitis had damaged his liver and made a new one his only option.He ultimately became too sick for a transplant.“We are devastated by this loss to the city of Saskatoon and to our newsroom, which is full of people who love and respect him. He had a brilliant mind, an exceptional writing talent and an uncompromising commitment to excellence,” said Saskatoon Starphoenix editor-in-chief Heather Persson.“Our thoughts are with his wife, Donella, and his twin sons, Joseph and William, at this difficult time.”Fuller was born and raised on Saskatoon’s west side where, he wrote with trademark wit, he “learned from an early age to find pleasure in the little things: climbing trees, bike riding along the riverbank, watching water main breaks being repaired.”After graduating from E.D. Feehan High School, he earned an English degree at the University of Saskatchewan, painted houses for a time, and received a degree in journalism from the University of Regina.There, he met his future wife, Donella Hoffman.Fuller began as a reporter at the Saskatoon Starphoenix in 1988 and would call the newsroom his professional home for the next three decades. In his early years, he worked as a general reporter before moving over to the entertainment and arts beat.He reviewed movies, plays and concerts, and wrote a weekly column, winning two Prairie Music Awards during his career.“When he bolted news coverage for entertainment, I thought he was wasting his talents, but was soon proven wrong. Cam’s quick wit, great sense of humour, and his shy yet unflinchingly honest personality shone through in his incisive columns,” said Sarath Peiris, an editor and colleague of Fuller’s for virtually all of Fuller’s time at the newspaper.Fuller — who, away from the job, was a passionate fan and supporter of local football — also acted as a mentor and guide to generations of young Starphoenix reporters, displaying the ability to write breaking news and long-form features, hilarious reflections and poignant columns.He could captivate a reader on seemingly any topic, from the First World War to the beer fridge at the Saskatoon Exhibition, a massive snowfall in April to what to do when the news is bad.Inside the newsroom, he was also known for his brilliant editing talents, displaying an exceptional grasp of the English language and an uncanny ability to turn a phrase. A recurring — and popular — topic in his weekly columns was The Word Nerd, during which he poked fun at grammatical errors in mainstream media, press releases and pop culture.Fuller, in the persona of The Word Nerd, would likely have seen some humour in one of the comments shared on social media following his passing.The reader accidentally ended a sentence of condolence with a question mark instead of a period: “So sad. He will be missed?”Fuller found joy in the day-today life of the job, which often began each morning with him pulling into the Starphoenix parking lot on the scooter he so loved to ride.He was quick to initiate a game of catch with a football or baseball around and over top his co-workers. Fuller would eat an apple around the same time every morning. Some stories were composed entirely at his desk, while others found Fuller golfing in a snow storm, gorging at food fairs and going upside down at the Exhibition.Among his Halloween costumes over the years, he once dressed as Jack Dawson from the movie Titanic, wearing an old-time life preserver and for the entire day uttering only two words: ‘So cold.’ He was quick to laugh and make others smile, one time printing out 50 copies of a picture of a Starphoenix sports reporter struggling to balance two trays of coffee — and then plastering the pictures to a wall so it was the first thing the sports reporter saw when he walked into the newsroom.“Our guy. No one funnier,” former Starphoenix photographer Richard Marjan wrote on Facebook.“You’d get to the end of a column, smile and shake your head because (if you weren’t laughing ), you were in awe of his ability to make you rethink an old assumption,” wrote former colleague Jenn Sharp. “We all learned about our own humanity through his lens on life.”“Cam was one of the most generous people I knew. Generous with his time, his compliments, his help, with his humour and with his friendship ... The world has lost a very good man,” wrote Darren Bernhardt, who worked with Fuller for more than a decade.Fuller’s first story in The Starphoenix (published without a byline) was in January 1988, about a violent break-in at The Brass Rail restaurant in Lakeview.“I was nervous enough to faint when I walked into the newsroom for my internship, a college kid who didn’t know what he didn’t know,” Fuller wrote in a column earlier this year.“Allowing someone as green as me into the circle was a risk, like they were giving a child a loaded gun and then ducking.“For the first three months, city editor Jenni Morton took a blue pen and went over every sentence I wrote to save the copy editor the indignity.”Over the next 30 years, Fuller would become a fixture of the arts and entertainment community in Saskatoon. On that day in 1988, he was simply the new kid trying to find his way.“My story ran on A8 without a byline. No credit? It didn’t matter. I was in,” he wrote earlier this year.“My heart raced. The ride began.”
Cam Fuller enjoys a taco during the Foodtruck Wars Flavour Challenge last July.
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