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GEROGE DOUGLAS STEPHENSON
Born: Oct 19, 1952
Date of Passing: Dec 05, 2021Send Flowers to the Family Offer Condolences or Memory
GEORGE DOUGLAS STEPHENSON
October 19, 1952 December 5, 2021
George grew up in Edmonton, Alberta and made Lethbridge, Winnipeg and Selkirk his home.
Graduating from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in the 1970s he started a career in journalism at weekly Alberta newspapers, then moved to the Lethbridge Herald before coming to Winnipeg with his first wife and reporter Wendy Stephenson where they both joined the fledgling Winnipeg Sun in the 1980s. George was the Sun's legislative reporter but quickly rose to become city editor and managing editor. Later he joined CBC Radio Winnipeg in the 1990s where he was news director.
In all those newsroom roles he mentored, guided, challenged and pushed young reporters to think hard, dig deep, and challenge authority. Today there are journalists from New York to Ottawa; from Winnipeg to Vancouver who would tell you they owe their career to George Stephenson.
His final career stop was at The Manitoba Teachers' Society, where he parlayed a career in journalism into union communications, creating everything from magazines to websites to compelling ad campaigns to advance teachers in Manitoba. He retired from MTS in April 2021, but continued to write as a frequent Winnipeg Free Press columnist.
Amid it all, he and Shirley Muir spent 30 years together supporting and encouraging each other's dreams and shoring each other up in good times and bad. They adopted a heritage home in Selkirk where Kit was born and where they lived for 25 years until their recent divorce. George deeply loved his daughter and was over the moon proud of her.
George is joining his parents Eleanor Ray and Jack, siblings Marilyn, Joan and Ken, nephews Donny and Kelly, and pets Soo and Cyn.
George had many hidden talents. He was a fine artist, singer, photographer and tap dancer. He was a good father, uncle and brother.
With a childhood that saw his family move often and having to start a new school almost every year, George became a fierce advocate for the "little guy". May we all use the gifts he shared with us, for good.
Donations can be made in George's name at Selkirk & District Community Foundation (sdcf.ca). Proceeds will support the Travel Kit Fund to help youth expand their understanding of the world through travel.
The Stephenson Muir family would like to thank Kit's partner Connor and friends Diana, Paul, Kym and Wendy for their swift and solid support.
A Gathering in George's Memory will be hosted in the near future.
As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Dec 24, 2021
Condolences & Memories (8 entries)
I worked with George at the Lethbridge Herald in the 1970s, along with D'Arcy Kavanagh and Richard Burke, whose comments are above. Unlike them, I can't say George was a friend and we never stayed in touch after I moved to Calgary. But what sticks in my mind is the way he would analyze an assignment or a continuing story and cut straight to the meat of it, ignoring political or bureaucratic spin and getting at what the reader wanted. Hearing him on the phone interviewing some pompous bigwig was almost cringeworthy. His direct approach could be paraphrased as "let's cut the BS" and he often did it with a smile or a laugh. When the conversation was over, I'd imagine the interview subject hanging up and thinking, "What did I just say?" I'm sure George became a fine mentor to young colleagues. Those who paid attention surely had what they needed from him to be accomplished journalists. - Posted by: Bob Blakey (former colleague) on: Feb 09, 2022
George was far and away the best boss I ever had. I found out too late that I should not have become a reporter, but George’s leadership brought me to the best journalistic work of my career at CBC. He supported me professionally and personally and defined for me and many others what we were supposed to be doing with and for the public trust. Two tenets I will forever credit him with live on: “Get it first, get it fast, get it right and get it on!” and “Reason before passion but not reason without passion.” Rest well and doodle forever good sir. - Posted by: John Sadoway (Former colleague ) on: Jan 26, 2022
I just learned that George passed away a few days ago and my heart aches. While we hadn't been in touch in recent years due to, well, life, we were still friends and my mind flickers with so many good times and interesting discussions. We met in 1978 at the Lethbridge Herald where we worked in the newsroom and also with Wendy. When they left for Manitoba, we stayed in touch and I and my first wife visited them in Winnipeg. And when my life changed, we kept in contact, swapping personal updates, tales about the journalism business and, for countless hours, how baseball was evolving. He went to the Winnipeg Sun, I went to freelance writing and we stayed in touch. The last time we met in person was at an annual Canadian Association of Journalists convention in Edmonton. I don't recall much about the convention but I can provide details of the times George and I linked up. I always respected his viewpoint and opinion. He never told you what you wanted to hear, but what you needed to hear. Of the many people I've met in a lifetime, George's opinion was always honest and fair. I can't say that about hardly anyone else. He was a man true to himself. Having said that, I never once heard him sing much above a whisper whenever I hauled out my guitar and played some Stand Rogers. Tap dancing? That's a surprise. But baseball, beer, Burton Cummings, the state of journalism, traveling Canada in a van or car, politics and, more recently, children, we spent many good hours discussing such matters. I said my heart aches. It will for a long time. My condolences to Kit, Shirley, Wendy and his extended family of friends. - Posted by: D'Arcy Kavanagh (Friend) on: Jan 04, 2022
I had the privilege of working with George for more than a decade during his time at Manitoba Teachers' Society. I always appreciated the quality of George's work and his ability to build and support a very strong team in the communications' department. The products developed at MTS under his leadership became models for other teachers' organizations across the country and were widely read throughout the professional community. I have missed his wry wit and express my sincerest condolences to his daughter and family. - Posted by: Terry Price (Co-worker, Manitoba Teachers' Society) on: Jan 04, 2022
When George worked as a reporter in the Lethbridge Herald newsroom in the ‘70s, his colleagues respected his determination to get the story right and his compassion. Two of his efforts, well ahead of their time, stand out all these years later: he rode a wheelchair around the city downtown to determine and draw attention to the lack of accessibility to buildings and sidewalks/curbs; he led the cause in the newsroom over pay inequality. Sad to hear of his passing. - Posted by: Richard Burke (Former colleague) on: Jan 04, 2022
Words cannot express the loss in knowing that George is no longer part of our world. He remains a remarkable man, a dear former colleague and supportive friend. We worked together at CBC radio for only a few short years, but such memorable ones. He was a leader of extraordinary talent, encouraging those who worked for, and with him, with humour, thoughtfulness and candor. We kept in touch for many years while he worked at the Manitoba Teachers’ Society and helped with the awareness of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission Youth Conferences. I am sorry to have lost touch with George over the last years. I did, however, smile each time I saw his name under an Op-Ed piece in the Winnipeg Free Press and read his astute understanding of news and events. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. - Posted by: Patricia Knipe (CBC colleague and friend) on: Dec 29, 2021
Deepest condolences to Kit and family. George was indeed an icon of the local journalism scene, along with both Wendy and Shirley, especially during the era when I was a journalist at the competing Free Press. He definitely left a mark. - Posted by: Maureen Fitzhenry (Acquaintance ) on: Dec 26, 2021
In the early onset of the Winnipeg Sun, 1981-91 although I worked in the AD department, I had the utmost respect for people like George who took a chance at developing a newspaper that " made it". The editorial staff were hard working people, something I got to see while I also wrote a short lived column. MY sympathies go out to Shirley and to Wendy who also made the pages of the paper compelling. Here's to George and may you continue your writings across the clouds. - Posted by: Laurie Anne Marie Gydé (Former Winnipeg Sun staff 1981-91) on: Dec 24, 2021
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