Like many Kelowna residents, not to mention thousands of other Canadian radio listeners, I was devastated to learn of the death of dear friend Kim Calloway.
I was so fortunate to have become good friends with the man who many viewed as a radio legend and icon in Canada. While Kim cut his radio teeth in Ontario (but we forgive him for that) his local persona was enhanced by his years of service with local radio.
Kim and I had casually known each other for many years as ‘media personalities’ (whatever that is supposed to mean) and crossed paths on various charitable or social events; however, the real friendship came out of an evening that he and I and our two lovely partners (Arlene and Teresa) suffered through together.
A couple of New Year’s Eve events ago singer Deb Stone was asked to host a karaoke contest during the night in the Community Theatre’s Black Box. That setting has a sense of irony now.
Begrudgingly, but out of love and ‘good gosh—I owe you girl’ I agreed to be one of three judges for the event. By doing so I had broken a vow of years before when I promised myself I would never, ‘forever,’ judge a karaoke event again. Well, as I wrote in a song years before, “forever is a long time until it ends,” and Deb Stone can be very persuasive. As it turned out Kim was there in all his glory and the third judge wisely never showed up.
It was horrid. Without question the worst night of attempted singing I had ever witnessed. It was, in fact, painful.
In true class, though, Kim managed to keep smiling on the outside throughout the night and find something positive to say about most contestants. During the course of the evening, however, Kim and I shared a number of hilarious comments quietly amongst ourselves, and quietly suffered together. It was a bonding, of sorts—much like other men share during times of duress.
Following that night Kim and I shared a number of coffees, gatherings, and special events together and soon discovered our love for song writing. He loved to play folk and blues, another passion we shared. The only difference was that Kim could actually play guitar and sing.
With media backgrounds we also shared a slightly bent sense of humour together. We were constantly chuckling about something.
Ironically, I invited Kim to help co-host my annual Night of the Arts concert the past two years, grooming him to take over if and when my own failing health limited my ability to do so. I never expected the scenario to unfold as it has.
Like many, the news of his death knocked me to my knees. I can only imagine the anguish felt by his loving partner Arlene, a class act herself.
Kim had a golden voice which simply audibly displayed his golden heart. There are not enough superlative, kind words to say about this man. He championed any cause that hit home, involved music, or assisted those in need. He loved to do volunteer work and be a part of the Okanagan community that had truly become his home.
Aside from music, Kim also was a car nut, especially vintage vehicles. He also had a fascination and love of old war planes and last summer in Seattle enjoyed a ride in a 1944 bi-plane open-cockpit Boeing PT-17. He told Arlene the fact that the plane was as old as he was made it extra special.
Another of his skills that few knew about was his love and skill with photography and he took many interesting photos over the years.
Arlene and Kim also spent many hours cuddled up watching classic movies, especially the Turner Classics shows.
A celebration of life is planned for Sept. 6 at, fittingly enough, the Kelowna Community Theatre. The time of the event will be announced soon.
As mentioned earlier in this column, words cannot express the love and admiration I had for this man despite our short time as close friends.
He was an example of what a good man and good person should really be about. I’m not sure there was a nasty bone in his body. Certainly he had a heart that served the world so well.
A class act all the way—Kim Calloway will live in my heart ‘forever.’
I miss you already, my friend.