Welcome to JJ-365 Salutes. Over 2018, we pay tribute daily to one of “The Good Ones.” Today we are shining the light on "The Real" Roy Hennessy.
Where do I get started with this character? There is such a story to tell. This one takes a bit of time but I guarantee that you will want to read it all. The ending is especially wonderful and emotional, a Christmas time kind of story. I have had some good luck in my career, and Roy has had a big hand in it like he has with so many others.
Roy says he owes his career path to 365’er Red Robinson, then at CFUN and Vancouver’s original Teen radio star, who was leading a revolution in radio in town. He led the way to formats, hit radio, and talking to the real audience and building a new future for the business. He truly is a pioneer who led the way.
Roy was 21 when he got his first job in radio…thanks to Red Robinson. Jim Morrison, Brian Brenn, and Roy were the three amigos at RADSOC at the UBC radio station, undergrads with a passion for radio.
They were the new breed – Radio Geeks. Never number one in their class, never the most popular, and always outsiders with a twinkle in their eyes. They spent many / most evenings, hitting the White Spot for a Triple O and then going to CFUN to watch their Idol in action. Red, for whatever reason, took a liking to the three of them and they had almost open access to CFUN, to watch him do his magic. For some reason Roy says, Red went out of his way to help him put together an audition tape, which took a while and then he sent it to seven stations in B.C. Five of them responded with a suggestion that a career in plumbing might be a good idea. Ralph Robinson at CKOK in Penticton asked him to drop in if he was ever in town. Roy says: “Ever?... how about Saturday?
We met, he didn’t have anything but put me on the list…. A couple of months later, he called me and I had my first gig…evenings on CKOK…which really meant I got to read ‘Hatch ‘em, Match ‘em and Dispatch ‘em…Births, marriages, and Obits which we did every day.
The first disc I played as a paid DJ was The Chiffons “One Fine Day” in the Summer of ’63
Six months later Maurice Foisey hired him to the all-night show at CHQM in Vancouver complete with a $25.00 a month salary increase.
At that time Lloyd Moffat was moving CKLG from North Vancouver to downtown and starting up CKLG-FM. He hired Sam Holman from WABC New York to come to town and program LG. Roy heard about this and figured Sam would go Top 40 and chase CFUN (where he says he had no chance of getting a job).
Roy would show up at 9 on Monday morning, every week for a couple of months and have coffee with Sam and give him his opinion on the market (‘I thought I knew something’ he said). So, Sam offered him an evening shift in the newsroom. News? “I could barely spell it, but I didn’t tell him that. My first afternoon on the job…having never read a newscast on air – ever – Sam came in… he’d screwed up. Ken Chang the 8 – midnight jock had left for Hawaii on vacation and he had no one to cover. So ‘you’ve a couple of hours to learn the board and check out the playlist..good luck’. Well two weeks later, Ken came back, and then left and I was the evening jock! Seriously, timing, luck, whatever that’s how I got my LG gig.”
Planning was underway to switch to Top 40, and the decision was made that they would switch on August 24, 1964. The reason? The Beatles were playing Exhibition Park and they were staying at the Georgia Hotel where they had broadcast rights from another time. So, they were the only media allowed inside the hotel. They had it blanketed with on-air and news people ready to pounce when they checked in, which they never did. Instead, the Beatles went to the Lion’s Drive-In near the stadium for a burger! But there was a press conference at the stadium prior to the show, so Sam sent Roy! Yep, his very first professional press conference was in room 19 under the stands before the concert. Says Roy: “Think about it… about 20 press, radio, TV folks interviewing the BEATLES!! I’d give you a copy of my part of the interview, but, honestly, I didn’t get one question because Jack Webster wouldn’t shut up! But leaving with McCartney’s autograph certainly upped my status in the family…”
Those early days were a struggle, CFUN had a strangle hold on the market, and they were scrambling. Putting a New York Top 40 format on-air in sleepy Vancouver, wasn’t all that successful. One of the things that did help them start to crack the market was Russ Simpson’s choice (Steve Simpson – ex CRTC Commissioner is his younger brother) to add black music to the mix. Motown, R&B, into the mix and they started to stand out and gained audience in the more multi-cultural parts of the city. It was a struggle against the established stars. If you had Red Robinson you owned it. Plus Al Jordan, Tom Peacock, Frosty Forst, Fred Latremouille, etc.
Skip ahead to summer of ’65, Roy had loaded his wife Sharon into their brand new silver-grey Chevy Corvair and drove to Los Angeles. As they drove over the mountain, they were blown away by the Real Don Steele intro’ing “Satisfaction” … ‘Gooooodd Afternoon Boss Angelos’…. The energy, the tightness, the jingles, the Hits, 20/20 News, no breaks, no pause, few commercials. He called Frank Callaghan as soon as they arrived and jumped all over him…."YOU GOTTA HEAR THIS." Frank was disinterested.
Back to Vancouver, despite his non-stop pounding on the desk, there was no interest until summer ratings come out and they were further in the tank. Frank flew to L.A., listened for a couple of days and called Roy to see if he had clocks and playlists. Roy said yes, Frank said we’ll do it as soon as I get back, Roy put it together, and six months later they owned the ratings!
Frank put Daryl B (from Moffat in Winnipeg) into drive, Roy in 6-9 and wisely hired the late and great Fred Latremouille away from CFUN to do 9 – midnight. Roy believes Fred was the best communicator, natural talent and most appealing on-air personality he ever worked with.
Add amazing talent like Paul Arthur, Jim Hault, Dan Williamson, Russ Simpson, Jerry Landa, J.B. Shane, John Tanner, et al who all had one thing in common. The PASSION for radio, the business, and the audience.
Russ Simpson moved on from the station and Roy became Music Director now working with a gang of promoters, hustlers, and music maniacs that invaded every Tuesday morning. Guys like the clown – Bruce Bannon, Ray Pettinger, Reg Ayres, Bruce Davidson, Rich Simmons, Frank Gigliotti and 365’er Dave Chesney who worked two sides of Columbia records – Epic and CBS.
And the national guys – John Turner–Polydor, Dave Evans– Capitol, Arnold Gosewich–CBS, John Ford– RCA, Doug Chapell–A&M, Bill Gilliland– ARC, and more – all passionate about the record business in Canada, a business that was in its infancy, just like the new radio environ. There were no rules, just ideas, and energy.
Back then those guys were paid bonuses if they could get the MD’s of stations to show up at press events, album previews etc. And because Roy was now also doing mornings getting him to show up at these evening events was not easy. Solution? They blew up a picture Roy from one occasion, turned into a cut out which they took to their events and sure enough, photos came out in RPM Magazine, and there Roy was…always in the same three-piece suit and always holding the same glass of wine. That finally ended that when they took a picture of Roy standing at both ends of the group!
Roy with a total of 3 years into his career was asked to do mornings with Paul McKight as his producer / operator which lasted 12 years and with huge success! Paul claims to have all the pictures and audio he needs to destroy Roy anytime he wants! Paul ended up as a senior manager for RCS in the U.S. and had an amazing career and will always be one of those special folks in Roy’s life: “If we ever told all the stories of our morning adventures, I’m sure no one would believe it and if they did…we’d both be eligible for parole about now.”
Roy reiterates there Were No Rules at that time.
Imagine trying to do this today.
At a meeting with Frank Callaghan PD, Don Hamilton GM and Roy and Paul to discuss a fall ratings promotion. Mr. Hamilton had a suggestion. Roy should give away Egg Timers to the audiences every morning! Says Roy: “Egg timers…you’re kidding! The only egg timer they were interested in was their ovulation date! I’d already proven that by introducing a half hour ID at 7:30 and 8:30 every morning…right after the half hour ID… ‘good morning… it’s 7:30 – Take Your Pill Time’– that was a bit controversial!!! The Christian parents in the audience went nuts complaining to the BBG (precursor to the CRTC) that I was promoting birth control, and we were called to a BBG hearing about it. Mr. Hamilton’s response to the accusation at the hearing was that ‘lots of people take prescriptions, vitamins’ etc.”
Roy was there with long hair, beard, and rock jock attitude, so you can imagine how it went. The result was they had to run an on-air campaign advising about the potential risks of taking birth control written by their genius brilliant creative director Myles Murchison.
After protesting the egg timer idea, they threw it back at Roy to do something that would turn the town on its head. He decided to do a Burt Reynolds? As a joke 6 months earlier, Burt had done his infamous nude fold out for Cosmopolitan magazine. Dick McLean the publisher of Vancouver Leisure magazine was totally into this.
After two weeks of thinking about it (how do you explain this to your ex-wife and current girlfriend), Roy went for it. Dick hired Ralph Willis, Australian photographer for Penthouse magazine to come in to stage the shoot. It came out and WHAM… 65,000 copies sold out. Twenty years later Roy still couldn’t go to social events without some unexpected woman walking up to him with “I don’t recognize you with your clothes on!” He even got a request from the federal MP from Vancouver Judy LaMarsh’s assistant for a signed copy to add to her collection!
After 12 years of mornings, he was getting bored at the same time the CRTC was introducing the new FM regulations. LG-FM was losing about $15k a month and some talented guys were waiting in the wings on the AM side. So Frank made a smart decision to get rid of the money-losing problem he shared with his AM responsibilities. He introduced a bright new guy to mornings named Doc Harris who has proven to be one of the greats, handed off Roy’s Music Director responsibilities to the late and great Gary Russell and moved Roy to LG-FM to become the Operations Manager. He was offered a 30% pay cut but a major opportunity. He mulled that for a long time, but the passion won and he took it.
What a mess. One of the names in the format they all hated was now their boss. He had no files, records, nothing. In his first meeting with the staff, he asked who had vacation time owing? All of the 9-12 staffers put up their hands. Roy Scrambled for months trying to organize, cut the losses, and get some ratings. Change had to happen!
One morning, driving from Horseshoe Bay to work, he was scanning the radio and hit CKO. They did a cut in from CKO-9 which was their new call sign. That meant CFOX was theoretically open, and his brain ran amok. The FOX…the FOX ROCKS…FOX HUNT (contest) FOX TROT (jogging fundraiser) and on and on. He arrived at the station and called Jim McLaughlin at head office in Winnipeg with another crazy idea. “Jim, I’ve got it… I want to change the call letters. CFOX. And here’s whythe you notice I didn’t mention format…cuz I didn’t have one yet." Jim: “I’ll talk to Randy and call you back,” Roy: “No problem, I’ve already called Bob Storey in Ottawa (CRTC consultant), and he’s reserved the call sign.” Jim called back relaying Randy’s comment: “Go for it!”
Enter 365'ers Dave Charles and John Parikhal from Joint Communications, two of the most important guys in Roy’s career. They introduced the Album Oriented Rock concept and brought their knowledge and experience nationwide, and they began to build the FOX. And it worked. In one year, they went from losing $15K a month to making a million bucks!
A problem for the FOX was selling the audience. ‘Music to Weld By’ was not exactly on every media buyers mind. What could they do to sell the audience? With Bruce Davidson (another lifelong friend of Roy and his kids who died a couple of years ago) they decided to soften the image and create something in the community. This resulted in the brilliance of the CFOX Children’s Fund, the re-creation of the FOX mascot to make him more family friendly, and more support for local charities. They opened up the format to a wider audience without hurting the brand. The CFOX Kid’s Park in Stanley Park was brilliant, primarily for kids with special needs, a unique place that features transplanted fun water spouts from the EXPO site.
Roy and I were talking about this and not surprised that we both make it a habit to go by there when in Vancouver and feel the emotion every time.
365’er Don Shafer was a huge part of FOX success. Don used to like to use a quote from a friend of his ‘The smartest number one people hire the smartest people… number two people hire number threes!’ Says Roy: “He is my brother. We are lifelong close friends to this very day. What we all started, he took, added his ideas, his creativity and his natural people skills and the station became much more. And in turn, when Shafe was picked off by Ted Smith at WIC to run Q-107 in Toronto.”
And Roy’s reward? Edmonton!
Chuck McCoy had been hired from CFUN by Jim McLaughlin to go to Edmonton to modernize CHED the Moffat Cash Cow and fend off the competition as long as possible and he did his usual great job. Chuck and Roy knew each from Vancouver, and Roy said both were radio enemies who didn’t spoke to each other for four years. The day that he signed on, Chuck called and said ‘we should do lunch.’ It was a great move to bring his talent, skills and professionalism into Moffat. Another part of McLaughlin’s plan.
From there Jim wanted Chuck in Winnipeg to head up Programming for the Moffat group, so it was “Hey Roy, well done, I want you to move to Edmonton.” WHAT? The FOX was rockin’, he lived on Eagle Island in West Van, on the water, facing Bowen Island, with his second wife Jane, planning on building the home of their dreams, skiing their buns off half the year, boating the other half, and go to where?
The late and great Jerry Forbes, General Manager of CHED, flew into town, came to the island, sat on the deck looking at the sunset on the ocean and pitched Roy on the move, gave him the world and off they went.
Part of Jim’s plan, as he later learned was to introduce him to the Jerry Forbes style of management, a dramatic change from the Don Hamilton leadership style. Jerry was one of the most influential men in his life. Roy says: “Nobody loved his staff more, spoiled them more, defended them more than Jerry…”
His first monthly budget meeting with Jerry was different. Roy was nervous as hell, not sure what to expect, so he walked into his corner office to be greeted by a WW2 soldier in full gear sitting behind his desk and immediately shooting him and soaking him with a dangerous looking water machine gun! Welcome to the Forbes world.
They spent so much time together in fun, creative, positive ways that it was impossible not to absorb the mind set into his life. As he says, “with Jerry… community service was a commitment that we all made. Santa’s Anonymous was and still is a part of everyone’s life in Edmonton. How do you compete with that?”
Jerry let you dream and big. Sales manager Bill Sysak asked Roy to join him in the bar at the Beefeater after work to meet a potential client. A developer who was in trouble. He had 46 lots he was in the process of building new homes on, and business was dead! It 1982 when Prime Minster Trudeau had introduced the National Energy Policy, and Edmonton was in the tank!
The prospects of success for his development were pretty much wiped out. So over a glass of red Roy said 'we’ll give away a house', which was not exactly what anyone was expecting. Roy threw this out: “Could you shave your lots a little bit and get 47? You are going to install 46 kitchens; would the supplier give you one free –and on and on, so you end up with a 'free' house, and I’ll give it away! No problem.' The developer jumped in and owned both the station and the Edmonton Sun for months with the ‘POSSIBLE DREAMSTAKES promo.
And that’s how he met Sandy Davis. He read about this crazy promotion and called Roy from London, On. They talked for a long time several times during the promotion and decided to meet when Roy was next in Toronto. Sandy had a mind that intrigued him, they got along really well, and when Roy moved to Winnipeg he knew who he wanted as his PD.
And then Jerry suddenly died on them all! Roy says no one gave him permission for that! It really shook up the station and the city, and his legend lives on today. A year or so later Bill Sysak died while GM in Vancouver and Jim McLaughlin sent all managers a memo forbidding anyone else from dying on him! True story and it worked for about 10 years.
When Bill Sysak went to Vancouver Jim brought Vern Traill from Vancouver to CHED. Roy recalls what he was thinking: “Oh No…I had just gotten away from him for a year, and now he was back in my life. A wonderful thing but scary cuz it was the ‘Cowboy’… Traill…’with one eye and two ells’… he lost his one eye playing baseball as a kid… and he was dangerous with his glass eye… he’d walk up to you a function and drop it into your drink. ‘Just keepin’ an eye on you Tiger’. Nobody was more mischievous or more of a practical joker than the Cowboy. And we had a running battle for years with pranks. fight ‘em or join ‘em…and you had to be in or step aside.
I had a welcoming party for him in Edmonton and had everyone put one of those paper lids over their drinks to save them from the wandering eye! Traill grinned at me and said ‘Keep your head up Tiger!"
Roy naturally believes in radio stations serving their communities, creating links that are invisible but so strong. He was an early member of Variety Club through their Telethons in Vancouver, Telethon co-chair with the late and great Bob Laine in Winnipeg, involved in the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation in Winnipeg, Crime Stoppers, and several more always tying the station back into the audience they served.
One of the initiatives he was most pleased with and proud of is Amber Alert. When David Bray and Roy had their small agency, RadioWorks, he joined the Ontario Association of Broadcasters as an Associate. They invited him to join the board. At one board meeting of the OAB, he brought up the Amber Alert project that had just been introduced in Texas. The OAB President at the time Paul Larche said “I received a letter from the OPP asking if we had any interest in the Amber Alert idea. Hennessy, I think you just put your hand up!”. So he took it on, a considerably difficult and complicate task, and they launched AMBER ALERT IN ONTARIO. Their first year, they had 13 Amber Alerts and 11 were successful!..
Out of that he helped Saskatchewan, and Quebec set up their programs, and the rest fell into place with the result being a national Amber Alert program that continues to evolve with technology and media evolution's and many, many kids have been saved.
As a result of that, Roy was awarded the President’s Award by the OAB in 2009 by President and 365’er Nancy Brown Dacko, which he proudly displays on his Home Office Desk.
Roy also spent several years on the FACTOR board working with Ann Graham of Rogers, 365'er Duff Roman of CHUM and other music industry representatives as they built the initial programs that launched the organization and he served as President for two years
Roy got his first GM gig, something he certainly wasn’t expecting. When Bill Sysak died, McLaughlin transferred the late and great Alden Diehl from Winnipeg. Jim called Roy in Edmonton and asked if he still wanted to be a GM? A week later he was flying into the 'Peg to meet his new staff!
CKY was doing okay but way below its potential and CITI-FM the legendary rocker was barely breaking even! They were building new studios it was all looking up. He called Sandy Davis, met him in Toronto and they cut a deal. Sandy (real name) Zenny Pawlow was moving to the Peg. His assessment of the market saw a hole for a “Lite Rock – Less Talk” format, added in a new morning show and things started to improve.
And then Randy Moffat was invited to invest in the Winnipeg Jets. He did, and the rights came CKY’s way. They immediately hired CJOB’s broadcast team featuring Ken “the Friar” Nicolson and 365’er Curt Keilback who were both amazing.
So how to capitalize on the Jets? The $58,000 Goal. Sandy, Barry Morelock SM and Roy put their heads together and came up with a contest for the shot from centre ice at a hole in a cover over the goal, ¼” wider than the puck and if you scored you won. Dealing with Lloyd’s of London was interesting and imagine the excitement when a 50-year-old woman walked on the ice one night and BAM, she nailed it. 365’er Dan Michaels was the host that night and almost soiled himself!! End result? A full page in People Magazine and a segment on David Letterman about Winnipeg.
Then there was CITI-FM with the brilliant Steve Young as PD, and Brother Jake Edwards as every guys guy rocking the city and province. But not making close to the money it should. WHY? Roy says he did some digging around and discovered that the incredibly profitable Q-107 made 48% of its revenue from BEER. And in Manitoba they had beer advertising after 10 pm only! Changes were made and in came Danny Kingsbury to broaden out.
Five years in and Jim McLaughlin decided to shake things up. 365'er Keith James was going to take over CHAM Country, Gentleman 365'er Don Kay was replacing Roy in Winnipeg and Roy was off to CKXL and CHFM in Calgary, and another new chapter began.
Four years of re formatting and evolving XL from a dated top 40 ish format that was being devoured by the new 66 CFR – Calgary Family Radio (soon to be Calgary Flames Radio) led to Hot Talk – one talk block a day. Charles Adler was a natural, a great performer and engaging host. You see where he is today and this is where he found his niche. Add in Hot Sports, Sports Talk but no team affiliation. That took some work but they ended up with the Calgary AAA baseball team and the Stampeders CFL broadcasts.
With CHFM they were doing well and had some different situations. Wayne Bryant was the Ops Manager, and he was not so secretly gay as were a number of the staff. Roy’s significant other, Brenda, who had moved with him from Winnipeg, insisted that Wayne bring his friend Jim over for dinner and that changed everybody’s world.
Roy recalls a phone call from Wayne one afternoon: “He told me that the afternoon jock was in hospital with AIDS. This was 1989 in Calgary! Our management meetings had this on our agenda for a couple of years but there was no policy or plan yet developed. I called Jim McLaughlin and said ‘What do we do?’ ‘Look after him, that’s what you do'. I went to the hospital to visit with him and assured him that we would look after everything, just get well. It was through this experience that we developed a plan to care for AIDS in the company. Jim, the announcer, got out of hospital, AIDS under control, and ended up living in the Bahamas for many years. Wayne became a very close friend of Roy’s and a big fan of Brenda who changed his life. He loved getting together with her and years later when he did his farewell tour to say goodbye to friends as he was losing his own battle with AIDS, they had a special time.”
One day in 1991 Roy got a call from Gary Russell who was in Vancouver with Standard. Gary Slaight had asked him to call him and see if he would have lunch and talk about some ideas he had. They met a few times in Toronto, and then Gary suggested he might be interested in my moving to RB? The largest audience in Canada? Really? The station needed to evolve and prepare for competition. All News was on the way, All Sports… All anything. And what was the big old girl going to do? Change format? Specialize, get rid of music? Change on-air performers?
That was the most challenging five years he ever experienced he says: “We got rid of music, developed clocks for News, and other services. Began computerizing the sales process, hired more sales people, from 5 – 8 (all three new hires were women, and all excelled very quickly). Revised rate cards and sales packages. CFRB 1010 – AM Stereo – whatever that was became The Source. CFRB 1010 changed the Talk Show, making it more current and truly topical. The audience was just over a million when I began and 1.3 million and younger when I left.”
Working with Legends was quite an experience. The likes of Wally Crouter, Bill Stephenson, Andy Barrie, Fred Napoli, John Stall, Taylor Parnaby, and on and on. How does a kid from Ladner sit down with Wally Crouter and tell him what he should do?
After five years, they parted company. Gary and Roy worked together well to evolve the station, plan for the future and honour the vision of his Dad. Roy says what Gary has done with his various ventures in the community and the industry to nurture and grow talent and “give back” is outstanding and commendable.
And so he left CFRB and spent a few months sorting out 'What next?'
One of his close friends, and another Jim McLaughlin inspiration, was Brian Minton. He was an outsider in the industry and established Moffat Radio’s national rep shop. He was a rebel.
Brian talked to Roy one day about an idea. He thought he should talk to David Bray, who had been on paternity leave from his agency, about a specialty shop that understood radio and could help advertisers capitalize on its strength. David was also passionate about radio – he’s the guy that negotiated exclusive Beer category sponsorship of Q-107’s morning show! They got together a few times and RadioWorks was born. So suddenly he was in the agency business. Roy describes David as a person with a genius creative mind.
David and Roy had a ten-year relationship that proved to be profitable, and they had some great successes in getting some 'respect' for radio. Their first big contract was with Burger King and Chuck McCauley who was a marketing guy who loved radio. From there we went on to work for a number of companies that wanted to capitalize on David’s creativity and their passion for the power of the medium. Exciting times.
One day he got a call from 365’er Tom Tompkins. He was at Pelmorex radio, and Pierre Morrissette had decided to sell his radio network. Were they interested and would they like a presentation? On his way back to the office he spoke to Geoff Pickering, one thing led to another and RadioWorks became MediaNet Communications. Resulting changes in regulations, consolidation, technological changes and other factors rapidly led to a loss of affiliates, loss of revenues, and, eventually, the folding of the network.
Back at RadioWorks, they had a new client. Bob Mackowycz Sr. was working on a proposed new radio station in Vancouver. He had local investors interested and was building out an application. Could they do some research and ‘find a hole’ for a format? The result was that a AAA format was a good option to get a license. The group decided to give it a go. On one of the conference calls the topic came up of who was going to make up the application team? Who was going to be the front line? Sam Feldman, one of the investors who Roy had known forever on the west coast said “Hennessy, when are you coming home?” “Why don’t you head it up” and so he became the President of what was to become SHORE 104.
They went through the hearings and we were one of two successful applicants for AAA licenses in Vancouver. And so they built a new radio station with a new format in his home: “Talk about life coming full circle… a lifelong dream.. and to make it smaller. I discovered a couple of years later that the station we built on 8th Ave. was actually just 10 or so blocks away from the spot where I was born! Think about that! Another story.”
Roy says the format was designed to get the to come, not win the ratings, two distinctly different goals. The final format was a few years out with survival and establishing the base was the goal in the early years. BBM switched to Personal People Meters (PPM) and all his budgeting, forecasting and planning was out the window. Investors soured on the whole concept and decided to fold their tents and get out. And so, they sold the station, made a couple of bucks and the dream ended in 2010.
In the meantime, Brenda, who he has been together with for over 30 years, and her assistant at an outdoor advertising print company, had an idea. They had identified a problem knot in the pipeline for outdoor and indoor print advertising. Installations was a common problem throughout the industry. They talked about how they could solve it and have a business of their own.
Well, that was nine years ago, and Brenda and Theresa have now built a solid, profitable, and respected Sign Installation Business they can proudly call their own.
Roy has had an amazing ride but perhaps the most exciting chapter began in March 2016 when Roy learned that his son Patrick was critically ill in Vancouver and needed a kidney transplant. He immediately thought that he would be the donor. He was a match, but apparently, there were too many miles on his, so the search for donation began.
While he was there, he received an email from the adoption agency of the B.C. government, that his file in his search for information on his birth parents was on the top of the pile and they were going to reach out to see if they could provide any further information for him. Up to then, you could say you would be open to connecting with the people involved in adoption, but you couldn’t contact. Well, they changed the rules, and he applied for a ‘pro-active search’. And they were prepared to go. They had a phone number for his birth mother, they tried it, and she was alive. ‘Very Alive’ was the message he got.
It turns out that his birth mother, then 89, was alive, was interested, and open to connecting. He describes her as a fire cracker. She interrupted the first call to say ‘that’s a lot of information – please email it to me.’ 89 years old and on email. She cancelled her landline and only has a cell phone. Don’t expect an answer during the day; she doesn’t do distracted driving! Loves her Mazda sport. Her sound system is good, but the music sucks, so she plugs in her iPod!
She tracks Roy’s flights on Flight Tracker on her tablet, and emails him endlessly on her iPad Air laptop. She is articulate, open, wise and feisty.
What a perfect end result of his search.
They connected, met, and he also met two brothers he didn’t know he had. And thanks to his daughters and 23 & Me, he also has a sister who lives in Prince Rupert.
They had Mom’s 90th birthday party in the Chalet on Grouse Mountain, where mom got to meet her six new grandchildren and eight Great Grandsons. All of their families have met, merged and his entire world has changed. From ‘All By Myself’, the title of the book he’s writing about this adventure to a big family that gets more interconnected every day. As they left the mountain, their proud and amazing Mom thanked everyone for being there and then looked at her three sons and said ‘Next time I want come by helicopter!’ They grinned and shook hands on it.
Roy sums up: “In the early months, I didn’t tell anyone in my new family about Patrick’s kidney problem and the failed donor quest. I was down about that and my new brother Gary prodded me about what the problem was… I relented, and he put his hand up… why not me? C’mon I hardly know you, why would you do that? ‘Cuz we’re family!’ and he did put his hand up and called me a couple of months later in Toronto. ‘Hey brother, I’m it!’ They’ve picked me.. we’re doing it on July 17th. And they did!
And so, my brother that I didn’t even know existed, stepped up and saved my son’s life! They are both in 100% shape, they are in touch constantly. They even celebrate the kidney’s birthdate.
Now I dare you to find a happier ending to this little tale than that one. It has been and is an amazing life… always follow your passion, the happiness and money will follow, believe in your dreams, trust your gut, keep that pen and paper close at hand and enjoy both wins and losses. “
What an amazing story and an amazing guy. Thanks for taking a chance on me and all the other people you have brought along. Well done Real Roy!
Thank you, Roy Hennessy, for being one of “The Good Ones”. Feel free to like and share Roy’s positive story. Who is the subject of tomorrow’s JJ-365 Salutes? As they say, stay tuned.
– Jim JJ Johnston is the multi-award-winning CEO, President and Chief Talent/Content Coach for JJIMS INC. and works with talent in many different industries worldwide.