Starphoenix writer known for wit, pas­sion

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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.

Cam Fuller

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