‘Larger Than Life’: Former CKVR Sportscaster Kevin Marks Wept (4 photos)

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“He was the funniest man I’ve ever known in my life and truly one of the most caring,” says a longtime friend and former colleague.

It’s been more than two decades since former TV sports commentator Kevin Marks last went off the air, but as friends and former colleagues mourn his death this week, the impact Marks left on their life will be felt for a very long time.

Marks, who joined CKVR Barrie in the early 1980s, died in his sleep at his Tiny Township home on Tuesday, February 22.

He was 64 years old.

His son, Brian Marks, said BarrieToday the family requested an autopsy to confirm the official cause of death. He said his father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease around 2015.

A well-known television personality in Barrie, Kevin quit television in the late 1990s and then spent a few years working in radio, his son said, but officially retired two years ago after worked for a few years at the Bayfield Street LCBO in north-end Barrie.

Brian said he wouldn’t miss a thing about his dad, describing his dad as incredibly quick-witted and always the funniest guy at the party.

“He was kind of gentle and masculine at the same time. He wasn’t very handy, but he could definitely play golf and other sports,” said Brian, who admitted their love of sports was definitely something that helped him and his brother, Sean, to bond with their father during their childhood and beyond. .

Brian says the best times of his life were spent with his father and their extended family at his uncle’s house.

“When we were all together, the laughs were never louder,” he said, adding that what people were seeing on TV was the same guy Kevin was at home. “When he was doing news on the radio, it wouldn’t be ‘assailant’, it would be ‘weasel’. He was using words no one else was using, because that’s how he talked in the real life.

His broadcasting career took him to Lethbridge, Alberta and North Bay, Ontario before moving to Barrie with CKVR and later as a morning reporter on KOOL FM.

George Bryson, who was one of Kevin’s oldest friends and broadcast colleagues, said Kevin’s death was a horrific loss to all who knew him.

“We worked together for a few weeks and decided one night to go out for a beer and wings after work. We just started bonding on Thursday nights. … We used to call it SLOTH Sipping lagers on Thursdays happily,” Bryson recalls the start of their lifelong friendship, which spanned more than 40 years. “He just became a very close and very dear friend.”

There is an expression often used to describe people, which easily matches his friend, Bryson added.

“It was that they were larger than life, and he really was. He walked into a room and everyone gravitated towards him because no matter where you were, he was the funniest guy in the room. But he also had the biggest heart,” Bryson said. “Everyone who was his friends knew they were very important to him.”

While there were many things that were important in Kevin’s life good friends, golf, cold beer and the Toronto Maple Leafs, to name a few nothing was more important than his family, Bryson acknowledged.

“He grew up in a very tight-knit and close family” in Toronto’s Leaside neighborhood with his two brothers, sister and father. whiskey… and that was what mattered most to him was his family,” he said.

“He was an accomplished family man,” Bryson added. “His two boys and his wife (Ellen) were the most important thing in his life and he treasured them very dearly.”

Bryson said the loss of his friend will leave a big hole in his life and he will miss laughing together.

“We never got together where we didn’t just laugh our asses off. It would be over, everything would end up screaming, ”he recalls with emotion. “He was the funniest man I’ve ever known in my life and truly one of the most caring.

“I can’t believe he’s gone.”

Former CKVR cameraman and union president Jim Holmes, who had known Kevin since 1984, said BarrieToday he was a big-hearted man who always made everyone feel welcome and, most importantly, laugh.

“Kevin was the funniest person you’ve ever met. He would walk into a room and he would just hold the room in his hands. With my son and with other kids, he was like their naughty uncle. He told the weirdest jokes,” Holmes said, adding that the news of Kevin’s death was “heartbreaking.”

“My wife passed away just over a year ago so I’m in this crushing avalanche of death. … To hear that from Kevin, although I know he was battling Parkinson’s disease, he was always seemed OK,” he added.

Holmes said Kevin is proud of his time as a local television personality and the forum it has given him to shine the spotlight on his community, as well as to mentor young news anchors.

“CKVR was a training ground and everyone who came, he gladly helped them improve and improve so they could move on to bigger things,” Holmes said.

Although he hasn’t spent as much time with his old friend and colleague in recent years, Holmes appreciates every moment they have been able to spend together, recounting BarrieToday his life will be better with Kevin in it.

“He will remain a hole in my heart, as we spent so many days and so many hours together. He will be sorely missed.”

Former CKVR videographer and host Don Wright said Kevin was “much loved” by viewers and his colleagues.

“I’ve worked with Kevin for years. He’s always been a positive influence on writing,” Wright said. “He had a great sense of humor that not only was appreciated and loved by all of us who were lucky enough to work with him, but viewers felt it as well.

“He had a way of talking to them through the screen,” Wright added. “He was a really great guy.”

Wright remembers covering the World Series-winning Toronto Blue Jays in the early 1990s alongside Kevin.

“He was very good at staying calm when the craziness was happening,” Wright said. “He was a big influence on my career. He was the type (of person) you aspired to emulate.”

Wright also remembers covering a “fun shoot” when the first bungee jump happened in Wasaga Beach.

“He was fearless,” Wright said. “He’s the first guy I’ve seen do that. He’s been a guide to a lot of us young guns.”

Mike Arksey first met Kevin while working as a sales representative for Molsons in the 1980s. The pair hit it off immediately.

“When you’re a Molson representative and you do a lot of promotion in the community, you need your media connections to support your events. He was one of the guys I spent the most time with,” said Arksey, who recalls an ice fishing derby where the two nearly got a big mid-air catch. “We caught this huge fish… well, we almost caught it, but it was the one that got away. He was so excited when we were trying to reel in that fish.

Kevin saw humor in just about everything, Arksey said, describing his friend as having an “eclectic, weird and somewhat quirky” sense of humor.

“He would go to a golf tournament and be the MC…and start dinner with O Canada and he played it on his head. It was amazing and you could hear the melody just from the drums. He was a great artist, a very sincere guy and a very good medium,” Arksey said. “I owe him a lot. He was just a really great guy and a good friend.

Gene Pereira came to Barrie as a sportswriter in 1991, by which time Kevin was already recognized as the “man” when it came to local sports.

“He was a sportsman through and through. When I got there everyone knew him,” said Pereira, who became a sportswriter at the former Barrie Examiner in 1997.

The two often crossed paths at various local sporting events.

“He worked very hard and was very good at what he did. He was funny and had a great sense of humor,” Pereira added. “He had that kind of personality that people clung to. He was definitely having a lot of fun doing his job.”

The Marks family has planned a celebration of Kevin’s life, which is scheduled for Saturday, March 5 at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 147 in Barrie. People can join the family anytime between noon and 4 p.m.

— With files by Raymond Bowe

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