Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sad News from Home

Murman, Heather Proudfoot and Nancy Regan - Florida 1994

It is never easy to write about someone during times of sadness. Such is the case today as I sit down and try to put thoughts to words upon learning of the death of a friend and former work colleague Heather Proudfoot Barry. News of her passing was relayed to me this very morning and hit me with a deep sadness and shock.

Heather was a bit of a legend in the Saint John Bureau of ATV back in the early 80's. A person of extreme integrity and good humour, she was well liked and respected by all those who worked with her in the field. By the time I arrived at that Newsroom she had moved onto ATV Halifax. I had met Heather socially before I came to work for ATV. Once I had arrived I was regaled with tales of Heather's abilities to tell stories and her way with everyday people, by her former cameraman Brian Chisholm.

Nancy , Heather and George at a place called Rosies in Florida 1994

It wasn't until ATV took the show to Florida during the spring break of 1994, that I finally got to experience what Brian had told me so fondly. Heather had a gift of being able to make an immediate connection with people of all stripes. She had a wonderful smile, one I shall not forget. My only regret is I did not get to work with her more often.

My thoughts are with her family, husband Art and their boys.

Here is her Obituary as it appeared in one of the Halifax papers:

PROUDFOOT BARRY, Heather - On September 14, 2007, surrounded by the love of her family and friends, Heather peacefully passed away in QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax. She was a loving and wonderful mother, wife, daughter, and friend who will be sadly missed but remembered with love and a smile. Heather was born in New Glasgow on December 17, 1958. She graduated from New Glasgow High School in 1977, where she excelled in soccer and music and was the founding editor of the high school newspaper. She studied journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa, graduating in I981 with an honours degree in Journalism (with concentrations of study in Canadian History and Political Journalism). Heather worked summers as a newspaper reporter with the New Glasgow Evening News, landing her first full-time job at CFNB Radio in Fredericton, covering city council and the law courts. Heather began her career with the Atlantic Television System (CTV) in 1982 in Saint John. In 1984, ATV moved her to Halifax to report for Live at Five and the 6 o'clock news. In 1988 Heather became the network's Legislature reporter covering the political events of the day from Province House in Halifax. She remained in that position until 1996, also serving in various executive positions for the Legislative Press Gallery Association. During her career as a political journalist Heather covered many significant events, now part of Nova Scotia's political history. Her stories documented such events as the tumultuous end of the Buchanan era and the rise and rocky fall of the John Savage government. She also had the opportunity to travel. She was sent to Washington, D.C., to cover the ushering in of the free trade era when Brian Mulroney became Prime Minister. Heather also covered Canadian Military maneuvers off the coast of Puerto Rico. She was among the first journalists sent to the site of the Westray Mine disaster and along with the CTV team, provided ongoing coverage of the immediate aftermath of the event and the years of political fallout that followed. Heather always said that was the most significant story she ever covered. She was especially touched by the event given that it happened in her own home county. Indeed it was her love of home and family that kept her near, despite several opportunities to work nationally elsewhere in the country. In 1992 she met and, two years later, married the love of her life, Art Barry. Together they had two boys, Michael in 1996 and David in 1997. Heather continued to work part-time for ATV after the arrival of her sons but then devoted herself solely to her family and community. She was president of the Crichton Home and School Association, a co-ordinator with the Block Parents Association and a member of the Saint Andrews Presbyterian Ladies Guild. She has also served on the selection panel for the University of Kings College Atlantic Journalism Awards. She also continued her volunteer work with CTV's Cape Breton edition of the Christmas Daddies Telethon appearing as co-host with dear friend and colleague Bill Jessome for 20 years. Diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2004 Heather confronted her fight quietly but bravely. She fought back and became well again and was resuming a regular life with family and friends. A family trip to Disney World in 2005 and time spent at the family cottage in Pictou County will live in our memories forever. On May 31, 2006, however, the bad news came. The cancer was back and Heather and her loved ones were in for the fight of their lives. Her husband Art, her boys and her family were at her side for every moment of the battle and her gratitude and love for them saw her through. Heather spent the last months of her life preparing her family for what was to come. Long talks with the children, lots of hand-holding with Art and her mom made for many special moments. Even then, the good moments outweighed the bad. While shorter than it should have been, Heather felt she led a full life. A wonderful childhood rambling over the sands and rocks at the cottage, close to 20 years in the profession she lovedÉ and looking after her own family and children. Despite her illness she still managed to pull off the best Halloween parties in the neighbourhood, our regular Christmas traditions and our Valentines chocolate fondue parties. She was always quick with a get-well note or basket of food for anyone else going through tough times. And her smile... oh, that smileÉ continued to light up a room until the very end. Heather is survived by her husband, Art Barry; sons, Michael and David, at home; her parents, Jim and Jean Proudfoot, New Glasgow, and brothers, Frank (Tara), Kendall (Jenny) and Jim (Janet). She is also survived by her wonderful nieces and nephews, and oldest and dearest friend, Barb. Heather would like to thank her many friends and neighbours who rushed to her side when needed. Every card, every note, every little package meant a great deal. Heather's ashes will be scattered in the waters of Chance Harbour in Pictou County. There shall be no visitation but family will be receiving friends in Dartmouth on Monday evening, September 17, at the Banook Canoe Club between 6:30 and 9 p.m. Flowers may be sent to the Banook Club between 3-6 p.m. Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be made to the palliative care unit of Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow (902-752-8311). Her funeral will be held on Thursday, September 20, in St. Andrews Presbyterian Church (the Kirk) in New Glasgow at 2 p.m. She was baptized there, married there, and now comes home to rest.

Heather Proudfoot Barry 1958-2007


marianne said...

hi there--- as a friend of heather and art's i was so happy to find your blog---my husband works with brian chisholm here at cbc saint john----i have been friends with art since highschool and my friends and i sang at heather and art's wedding thirteen years ago---as you have mentioned Heather was a wonderful ,sweet person and we are all so sad to have her leave so soon---we got to spend a weekend with her and art at their cottage last month and you would have been so impressed with her courage and humour----she was a joy to be with----we are singing at her funeral this thursday in new glasgow and i just wanted to thank you for your thoughtful blog----

Murman said...

Thank you Marianne. Please let Art know that his "road hockey " friend from 4th street, has he and the boys in my prayers and thoughts.

Thank you for the note.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Murr for your tribute to our old friend. She was a great gal to work with at the beginning of her TV career in Saint John, and a lot of fun outside work too. A great loss to all who knew her.
Brian C.