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Saturday October 25, 2014

MCCREATH, Ross Angus

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Ross Angus McCreath. He died peacefully at North York General Hospital on the morning of Tuesday, October 7th. He was 90 years old, and until just a few weeks before he died, Ross was happily staining his beloved cottage and spending yet another summer on Lake Muskoka. He had been surrounded by family since being admitted to hospital after suffering a stroke on Sunday, September 21st. Predeceased by his cherished wife of 40 years, Marion (Dol) McCreath. Beloved friend of Betty Faltus, loving father of David (Catherine Cunningham), Richard (Nina McCreath), Maggie and Brian. He was the dearly loved brother of Ralph (predeceased) (Anna), June (Barrie Bassett, predeceased), and Louise (Gerry Arthurs predeceased), and the cherished grandfather of Niko Pupella, Renner and Allegra McCreath and William McCreath.

Born in Toronto in 1924, Ross and his siblings spent summers on Lake Huron in Goderich where his parents had grown up. During his high school years at Lawrence Park Collegiate, he developed an interest in working behind the scenes in support of concerts and plays. Ross later honed these skills when he volunteered for the Army in 1942, joining the Army Show, often bringing shows close to the front lines to boost morale. After returning from the war he met and courted the lovely and dynamic Dol Parker. They married on October 14, 1949 and between 1952 and 1960 they produced four children.

In the early 60's, he, Dol, and her parents built a family cottage in Muskoka which quickly became the heart and soul of his family life right up until his death. There he could always be found fixing and making things, the ultimate do-it-yourselfer. He coined the phrase 'make work project,' a legacy he has passed on to his grateful children and grandchildren. He loved dogs, mystery novels, recounting stories, Big Band music and his antique Dispro boat, the 'Lady Dol.' While growing his family and building his career, Ross also took a keen interest in civic affairs and organized the first ever Grey Cup Parade in 1949, a major undertaking that provided a lot of fun and was a great sense of pride for the citizens of Toronto. Ross also chaired the Grey Cup Dinner Committee for several years. He was involved in the local ratepayers association and had an impact on the route of Toronto's first subway extension. His dry sense of humour kept his family laughing and endeared him to everyone he met.

Ross enjoyed a very successful career, starting in 1946 at Spitzer and Mills' radio department as a media time buyer and rep for shows such as RCA Victor's Wayne and Shuster Show. He moved to All-Canada Radio and Television in 1949 as a radio time salesman. With the arrival of private television he was instrumental in the company establishing its Television Division and in 1959, Ross became Vice-President-Television. From 1958 to 1969, he served on the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Television Sales Advisory Committee. In 1966, Ross was appointed Vice-President and General Manager of All-Canada Radio & Television Ltd. and in 1969 he became a board member of Selkirk Holdings Ltd. for a ten-year term. In 1972, he was made President of All-Canada Radio & Television Ltd. As All-Canada's influence expanded internationally, Ross organized Selcom Inc., a U.S. radio representation company, which by 1974 had grown to represent over 100 U.S. clients and in 1975 became Seltel Inc. He kept many photos, letters and memorabilia from his days at All-Canada and the old '1000 Yonge Street' address sign still hangs at the entrance of the McCreath cottage.

Ross' influence was felt internationally, as well. He played a leadership role in the privatization of the broadcast industry in the UK. He was responsible for setting up Radio Sales & Marketing in London for the London Broadcast Company. His children have fond memories of summers across the pond with him, experiencing a small part of Ross' impact abroad.

In 1972, Ross was one of the 'Founders' Committee' responsible for the creation of CanPro, the annual Canadian Television Program Festival that was to feature Canadian programming in an annual competition that ran from 1974 to 1999, and was hosted across Canada. He was a director of the Broadcast Executives' Society from 1968 to 1974, and President of the Canadian Association of Broadcast Representatives, 1968-74 and 1982-83.

Ross' passion for the industry and organizational skills had him in much demand for other pro bono industry roles. His involvement included two eight-year spans as a director of the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement, which he chaired for two years. He also sat for ten rewarding years (1967-77) on the Board, two of them as Chairman of the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB), and for six years (1980-86) on the Board of the Radio Bureau of Canada, which he chaired from 1983-86. In 1982, he chaired the Planning Committee for the first ever Joint Convention of the Central Canada Broadcasters' Association and the Central Canada Broadcast Engineers.

In 1987, Ross moved from All-Canada to head office and became Vice-President - Representation, Selkirk Communications Ltd. In the same year, he began a two-year term as Chairman of the Canadian Communications Foundation (CCF).

Ross retired in 1989, completing 40 years with All-Canada/Selkirk. On his retirement, Selkirk submitted proposals for a scholarship in Ross' name. Each year the Ross McCreath Scholarship is awarded to a student at Seneca who shows special proficiency in radio and television studies, with an emphasis on marketing and sales, as well as showing evidence of the 'philanthropic spirit that characterized Ross McCreath's career.'

Ross's untiring work for the industry also earned him the Ruth Hancock 'Friend of the Industry' Memorial Award in 1979, and in 1987 the Association of Canadian Advertisers honoured Ross with the ACA Gold Medal Award, Ross being one of only five broadcasters to have been so recognized in the then 54 year history of the Award.

Ross continued his interest in, and promotion of the broadcasting industry into his retirement. A meeting in 1994 resulted in a new CCF Board being created, with Ross once again as President, and the establishing and development of a website dedicated to chronicling The History of Canadian Broadcasting, a joint initiative of the CCF and Ryerson which became the home for over 150 taped interviews with retired and active broadcasters. Under Ross', leadership, the foundation's website: www.broadcasting-history.ca, evolved into a unique authoritative resource for students and all those interested in the growth of broadcast in Canada.

In 1998, Ross McCreath was inducted into the CAB Hall of Fame. In November 2011, he stepped down from the Presidency of the Canadian Communications Foundation, but remained active on the Board.

Ross will be sadly missed by his family, friends, and professional community. A private family gathering was held in accordance with his wishes. Donations in the memory of Ross McCreath may be made to The Canadian Communications Foundation: www.broadcasting-history.ca

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