Parrywinkle, March 9, 2017

Well, dear readers, it's been a tough week here at Your Local Journal. For Joe Bissonnette, who founded our award-winning community newspaper together with his younger brother, Rod, 00 years ago, passed away at the age of 75 on Wednesday, March 1.

And while he hasn't actually been in the office too often in recent months during his valiant battle with ill health and having passed on the torch to his daughter, Monique, as Publisher Emeritus we always felt that he was there with us in spirit. And goshdarn it, still is for that matter!

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REST EASY PILGRIM - On a personal note, and not merely because Monique is now my boss and signs the cheques, I'd just like to say that Joe was one hell of a guy. Think about it folks. Had the Bissonnettes not had the courage and vision to launch an alternative weekly newspaper in our community - despite often vicious and vitriolic attacks on them and their staff by certain people putting out another newspaper now no longer in existence after almost 65 years of publishing - we almost certainly wouldn't have one today.

PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

A sad and heartfelt farewell to YLJ Publisher Emeritus Joseph Bissonnette

Will always remember my first meeting with Joe when I proposed that I join them as a regular columnist quite a few years ago now. “So what do you plan on writing about James?” he asked me. “The Hudson community,” I replied. “People whose stories might never make page 1 but who are doing positive things to make our town a better place in which to live. You know, that kind of stuff.”

“You're hired,” he said with a big smile. “When can you start?

For that was Joe. No pretentions. No BS. No guff!

Only many months later would I learn that we had other interests in common. Old movies and particularly westerns, for example. Including just about every one starring John Wayne. Sheesh, Joe could do his talk and his walk second only to the Duke himself. And I thought I could do a pretty good imitation myself!

So Joe, rest easy pilgrim. Your newspaper is in good hands. We will miss you. But your spirit, and vision, lives on. And now I'd better get this column completed before I get a call from your editor, Carmen Marie Fabio, asking where on earth it is as we are right on deadline!

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KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES - Still on the print beat, got a call the other day from a former publisher of the now defunct weekly mentioned above. Namely, Greg Jones - who never did attack YLJ while there, incidentally - who had just read my piece in last week's column about Campbell Ferguson being on the mend after triple open-heart surgery. “I really empathize with him,” he told me. “I had an emergency quadruple operation in mid-February that has caused me to reflect on how just important every day is.”

Apparently, Greg, now living in Alexandria with his two teenagers, Eddy (16) and Jasper (18), had a heart attack in the middle of the night and was rushed to Glengarry Memorial Hospital. From there, he was admitted to the renowned University of Ottawa Heart Institute where an angiogram failed to solve the problem and the operation ensued.

Explained Greg, now obviously on leave of absence from his job driving a school bus in the Alexandria region which he has been doing since 2013 after leaving the paper the year before, “For me, the last thing I ever thought was that I would ever have a heart attack. It came as a complete shock. High cholesterol was my demon. But now I’ve been given a second chance to live a better life with a change to my diet. My heart itself was not damaged and I am in good shape physically, so recovery is going very well.”

Same for his right leg, by the way. No joke. He broke it back in July last year while out on his motocross bike alone! “In fact, the leg hurts more than my chest,” laughed Greg. Who says he can't wait for winter to be over so he can indulge himself in a less grueling hobby. Fishing! Way to go Greg. And don't be shy to invite me along. I'll even loan you my filleting knife. Ouch!

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BUILDING BRIDGES - A cheesy segue, I know. But we are now in the Lenten Season running from March 1 to April 15. And on a more serious note, Wyman Memorial United Church in Hudson, 413 Main Road, has a very special guest speaker from the Muslim community following their 10:30 service with a free-will offering soup luncheon on Sunday, March 26.