Don Obe was an award-winning contributor to the Canadian magazine industry as an editor, writer, teacher and mentor. As a faculty member at Ryerson University he taught and mentored many of Canada’s brightest journalists. One of those he mentored, also an award winning journalist, said, “Don was one of the great characters of modern Canadian journalism. He could be funny, biting, sweet, profane, hard-assed and kind, sometimes simultaneously.
He was, for decades, the kind of journalist about which movies are made: hard-drinking and irascible with a soft heart. He was an important mentor of mine, as a writer, editor and, especially, as a teacher. But do you know what really matters? I owe everything I know about the soul of journalism to him.”
Another award-winning journalist said of his mentor: “I still hear him in my head: ‘Magazine writing is an intellectual exercise: it involves a lot more thinking than anything else; if you can’t write better than other people talk, you’re in the wrong business. Style at the expense of clarity is a waste of words.’ But quoting his advice does nothing to capture his passion for journalism and writing, especially narrative non-fiction, or his love of sharing that passion.”
“Lots of people, including me, learned so much about teaching journalism from Don,” said Ryerson professor Tim Falconer. “He really was a mentor to so many journalists in this country and that’s quite a thing to say about someone.”
Tom and his brother Ray, known as “Click and Clack,” hosted National Public Radio’s Car Talk show and changed radio talk shows forever. Their off-the-cuff banter, interaction with callers, and ability to make fun of themselves became a model for dozens of radio personalities. Prior to their influence NPR radio was marked by formal, polite, and cautious talk.
Tom’s infectious laugh as he tried to deal with caller’s worries about their automobiles, made the show a hit with both car buffs and those who knew nothing about automobiles. “Tom actually hated working in any world,” says his brother Ray. “Later on, when we were doing Car Talk, he would come in late and leave early. We used to warn him that if he left work any earlier, he’d pass himself coming in.”
Tom became everyone’s car mentor. One listener said, “I know nothing about cars, but when I was responsible for my very own, you and Ray helped me figure out what to listen to and how to communicate it to the person who could fix the problem. As a young woman with a car, you gave me the confidence to deal with others in the car world. You have always been like family to me. You were the crazy, yet helpful uncle that was able to give you that advice that nobody else could give. You have made me a better person, and I will always be grateful for that. I wish you peace and am sending all my love to your family. Thank you for always being there for me.”
Mademoiselle Souvestre founded the girls’ boarding school Allenswood, outside London, where her most famous pupil was Eleanor Roosevelt who went on to become one of the most respected women of the 20th century.
Eleanor’s early life was marked by an alcoholic father and a vain and distant mother (both of whom died before she was ten), and she was sent abroad to boarding school.
Mademoiselle Souvestre was the headmistress of the preparatory school to which young Eleanor was sent. Fortunately, Mademoiselle Souvestre’s goal for her students was to expand their minds and attain intellectual independence. The school used French in many classes. Eleanor turned out to be better prepared than most for Allenswood, due to extensive French tutoring prior to enrolling.
According to Elizabeth Pearce of MentorResources, it was during this period that Eleanor lost her shyness and acquired the self-confidence which would stand her so well in later life. Mademoiselle Souvestre mentored Eleanor, and they made field trips to Venice and Paris, with Eleanor making the arrangements. Mentoring introduced the teenager to the lifestyle of an independent woman. Eleanor always credited Souvestre with forming both her character and her intellectual outlook. The First Lady’s newspaper column on politics and social issues, My Day, was read daily by millions.