|photo courtesy THE STANDARD|
John Larocque, known as local radio's "Mayor of the Morning" has died.
Larocque, who had Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, passed away on January 17th at age 79 at Linhaven Home in St. Catharines.
His wife Eleanor describes Larocque as a "great ambassador for the city".
"I am still getting over the years, from people that I know — or didn't know — they'd come up with these little comments: 'I remember when John did this for me, or I wanted special music played or tickets for something."
"And he always managed to come through and help them. It's been so wonderful to hear those things," she said.
Larocque was born in Williamstown, Ont., married Eleanor in 1957, then moved to Hamilton as CKOC radio morning man.
In 1965, he accepted the same position at CKTB-AM in St. Catharines and six years later moved to nearby CHSC-AM as a morning talk host.
In 1971, Larocque became the AM morning man, where he remained until semi-retirement in 1996.
He was a tireless supporter of St. Catharines and known for attending every local event of note, said his former colleague Ted Yates.
"Everyone knew who John Larocque was," said Yates, who himself started at CHSC in 1977 and later became its program and music director. "He was a radio legend in this area."
"I remember going once into a grocery store for a promotion and everyone from the cashier to the customers all said 'hi John', and they all knew who he was.'"
Larocque was awarded the Rotary Club's Paul Harris Fellow honour, St. Catharines Canada 125 Medal in 1993, St. Catharines Citizen of the Year in 1997 and in 2003, the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal.
He had volunteered at countless events, including the Folk Arts Festival, Grape and Wine Festival and United Way.
"He would emcee anything that anybody wanted him to emcee," said Yates. "He was just so plugged into the community."
St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley was an longtime friend of Larocque.
Larocque also ran unsuccessfully against the Liberal incumbent Bradley for the Progressive Conservatives in 1981.
"John was real class act, the campaign was totally clean," said Bradley. "We started out as friends, we finished as friends and had a lot of fun in the campaign.
"It was back in the day when campaigns were clean and there weren't personal shots."
"Really a great guy," said Bradley, who has known Larocque's family for years. "All the information you wanted to know about what was going in St. Catharines was available through John Larocque.
"He had such a strong personal following and listenership and was involved in many charitable and volunteer organizations."
He will be missed very much."
CKTB's morning host Tim Denis, who also knew Larocque, recounts his well-known radio gregariousness. "He knew everyone's name and made sure he covered every local event," said Denis. "He was class through and through, always had time to talk and was the voice that thousands associate with real local radio."
Larocque is also survived by children Carrie, Dave, Chris and many extended family members.
Eleanor recalls a comment from son Dave, after Larocque's death.
"He said 'when going to school, the kids would say 'what's it like having your dad somebody who's famous and well known?
"David would say 'he's just my dad," Eleanor recalled.
That's when David realized, his dad was also more than that.
"When (David) wanted a special piece of music played or be wished happy birthday, John would have the inside source to get those things," she said with a laugh.
JOHN LAROCQUE'S OBITUARY
He was an enthusiastic supporter of St. Catharines, volunteering at hundreds of events: Folk Arts Festival, Grape and Wine Festival, United Way and the Childrens Centre being just a few. He was awarded the Rotary Club's Paul Harris Fellow honour, St. Catharines Canada 125 Medal in 1993, St. Catharines Citizen of the Year in 1997, Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003.
He was fondly referred to as the "Mayor of the Morning" during his years as announcer with CKTB and CHSC radio. He loved spending summers at his cottage with family and friends; sadly those years were few. We are extremely grateful to the caring staff on the Dalhousie unit at Linhaven.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to Church of St. Columba, the Alzheimer Society of Niagara or the Steve Ludzik Centre for Parkinson's Rehab would be appreciated by the family. On-Line Guest Book- www.georgedartefuneralhome.com
|RADIO ANNOUNCER JOHN LAROCQUE JOKES AROUND WITH ME (IN TROLL MASK)|
When I worked at Troll Book Clubs I entered our office in a contest at radio station CHSC. Each week John Larocque selected the business of the week and that company would receive a visit from Larocque, along with pizza, pop and the notoriety that you were the business of the week.
I was thrilled when John picked our workplace as that week's winner and wanted to do something quirky when he would come to the office. I put on a rubber Troll head and when John Larocque got out of the CHSC van, I greeted him at the entrance, waving my arms, while calling out to him "Welcome, Welcome".
As you can see by this classic photo, Larocque had fun pretending to strangle Troll man and I'm betting he would have a tale to tell when he returned to the station later on that day.
The building that once housed CHSC was torn down earlier this month and a few days later John Larocque passed away.