A staunch voice for the people and the communities of Vancouver Island has gone quiet.
JR Rardon, the editor of the Parksville Qualicum Beach NEWS and a longtime Vancouver Island journalist, died in his Alberni Valley home in the early hours of May 22 after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 61.
NEWS publisher Peter McCully, who promoted him from reporter to editor in 2017, remembers a bottomless camera bag and a bottomless well of love for people and communities and a chance to tell their stories.
“You couldn’t ask for a better colleague, JR had a great sense of humor and had a huge love of community and community newspapers,” McCully said. “All the staff loved him.”
McCully described Rardon’s work as “thoughtful, balanced and hopeful,” an approach he not only brought to his craft, but to the people around him.
American-born, he worked as a sportswriter for several daily papers in the United States before relocating to Vancouver Island with his family in 2006. He joined the NEWS in 2015 after serving as reporter, photographer and/or editor at Black Press community papers in Port Hardy and Campbell River.
He made a big impact on Port Hardy native Tyson Whitney, who eventually followed in his footsteps as editor of the North Island Gazette.
“JR Rardon was a newspaper legend here in the North Island,” Whitney said.
“Even after five straight years of non-stop writing and taking pictures, I still think that no matter how hard I try, I’ll never be as good as JR was at journalism. His articles and photography truly stand the test of time.
“His sports coverage while he lived here was exemplary, with my absolute favourite article of his being the one he wrote on the 2013 Seven Hills Golf Club’s Men’s Open. I wasn’t at the event, but after reading JR’s article, it felt like I had been front row for every swing of the golf club.
“The North Island will miss him. He was one of a kind.”
He was also an inspiration to his eldest daughter Elena, now a reporter at the Alberni Valley News.
“I may be a writer, but there are no words for how much my dad meant to me and how unfair it is that he was taken from us so soon,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
“He taught me how to shoot with a DSLR and helped me get my first job with a newspaper. He had a kind heart and a great sense of humour. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for him.
“I’ll always cherish the memories I have of him and I’m so grateful for the time we were able to spend together. Rest easy, Dad. I love you so much.”
JR is also survived by daughters Maia and Nora, and wife Pamela.
There is no service planned at this time due to COVID-19 restrictions and the fact most of his extended family still lives in the U.S.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in his name to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.