On Sunday, January 20, 2013, Richard Garneau died at Montreal’s Royal Victoria Hospital when he succumbed to complications following heart surgery. He was 82.
Garneau is a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Quebec, distinguished honours, respectively from his native country and province. He has captured hockey’s highest broadcasting honour with the Foster Hewitt Award; he is a Sports Media Canada Lifetime Achievement recipient … and so much more.
It was in London on August 2, 2012 in the exquisite P&G Home that Garneau proudly spoke for his colleagues at the esteemed event organized by AIPS (International Sports Press Association). More than 100 international sports journalists with assignments of 10 Olympic Games or more were saluted and bestowed with a limited edition Olympic Torch exact replica produced by AIPS Worldwide Gold Partner, Honav.
Of all those present that day for this sports journalism Olympics Hall of Fame – including AIPS president Gianni Merlo who was one of eight present with 20 or more Olympics – it was Garneau with the most Olympics covered.
Garneau’s Olympics legacy generated remarkable analysis, reporting and interviewing from Rome (1960), Innsbruck and Tokyo (1964), Grenoble and Mexico (1968), Sapporo and Munich (1972), Innsbruck and Montreal (1976), Lake Placid (1980), Sarajevo and Los Angeles (1984), Calgary and Seoul (1988), Barcelona (1992), Lillehammer (1994), Sydney (2000), Salt Lake City (2002), Athens (2004), Torino (2006), Beijing (2008), Vancouver (2010) and London (2012).
He missed the 1980 Olympics in Moscow because Canada was among the group of nations that boycotted those Games and also did not cover Albertville, Atlanta and Nagano because he had left Radio-Canada for the TVA Network.
Given his fervor for the Olympics it was, in retrospect, fitting that the AIPS celebration in London cast the spotlight on Garneau. Throughout all the well wishers who greeted him that day, Garneau’s trademarks of elegance and appreciation shone through.
In his final email to us after we, at Sports Media Canada, provided AIPS with his name for recognition, Garneau offered these modest words that speak volumes about a giant among sports journalists:
“Thank you very much for everything you did for me ... it makes me proud to be a member of AIPS and to get some acknowledgement for my passion concerning the Olympic Games.”
Au revoir, Richard … et merci.